Green Garlic Won't Blow Your Head Off.
The concept of “garlic soup” sounds like it would ensure a vampire-free future for all who sampled it. But this isn’t necessarily the case, I learned, when this week’s haul from the farmer’s market included a few bunches of “spring garlic.” Spring garlic, sometimes referred to as green garlic or young garlic, is basically garlic, jr. The long, green stalks are picked before the bulb has a chance to fully form and develop the papery skin around each clove, so the whole thing is edible.
I’ve never cooked with spring garlic before, and while I’d read about it’s mildness compared to fully-grown garlic, the pungent, powerfully garlicky aroma was a little disconcerting. I had an appointment with my trainer early the next morning and the last thing I wanted to do was show up with the essence of garlic emanating from my pores.
I needed the advice of an expert. And when it comes to produce, it doesn’t get much more expert than Alice Waters, the luminary of the seasonal cooking movement. Unfortunately, I don’t have Alice’s cell number, but her book, “Chez Panisse Vegetables,” is no shabby second. She suggests showcasing green garlic by pureeing it in a soup, with potatoes. She assured me that it's not powerful enough to blow our heads off (although she didn't quite put it that way.) Coincidentally, the Amateur Gourmet recently made the same recipe and wasn’t too impressed. But the recipe sounded so lovely and I had the ingredients in the house so I made it anyway. Although it turned out that I didn’t have all the ingredients in the house.
I only had 32oz. of the 48oz. (or 1.5 quarts) of chicken broth the recipe requires. I hate to make changes to a recipe before I’ve tried it as written. But, I hate more to leave the apartment on a breezy Sunday evening at 6:30pm, when I’ve got the music going and I can conceivably get dinner done in time to sit on the roof and watch the sunset. So substitutions were made, white wine was used, and the result was wonderful. Creamy, but not too rich. Mild but still garlicky, without garlic’s spicy bite. And perfect, served alongside Zucchini Basil Muffins and an early summer sunset. And my head? Still intact.
Green Garlic Soup
Based on Alice Water’s recipe from “Chez Panisse Vegetables”
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
24 young garlic plants, 1/2 inch in diameter at the root end, white part only (8 oz.), halved lengthwise
¾ cup water
1lb., 6 oz. small, new potatoes, peeled and quartered
32 oz. chicken broth
16 oz. white wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 – 2½ tsp. white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a 6-quart non-corroding pot. Add the garlic and ¼ cup of the water. Bring to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and remaining ½ cup water. Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broth and the wine, cover the pot, and allow to bubble gently for another 20 minutes.
3. Using a hand-blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cream and salt. Add the vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time, tasting the soup after each addition before you add the next. (Some vinegars may be strongly flavored than others.)
4. Pass the puree through a medium-fine sieve into warm bowls. Grind black pepper generously over each portion and serve.