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Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Nine Heads Are Better Than One: Garlic Soup
Categories: Cheese, Garlic, Vegetarian


Heads Up!

My wife, the girls and I were in the San Bernardino Mountains last week, enjoying a little time with the California branch of the family. That means that this week’s soup blog is coming to you from the road.


My brother and sister-in-law’s backyard to be precise, as I am currently locked out of their house sitting on their back stoop.

Prior to this debacle, however, my family all drove up for a few days at Crestline and Lake Gregory. This trip led the girls to pick up fishing rods for the first time and, thanks to some ham-handed parenting on my part, grapple with the existential questions of eating what they caught.

I launched into this speech about how American Indians had been grateful to the animals they killed for food and that they didn’t kill for sport.  You know, just the kind of thing a pre-teen contemplates on a daily basis…in their nightmares.

Nice work, Dad!

I don’t know what drove me to go all Native American on them, with the whole reverence for life and the requisite respect due all living things.  In retrospect it seems a little forced.  I am admittedly kind to most mammals and birds, but I am not particularly tolerant or respectful of insects.

I guess I draw the line at fish.

A couple of hours before dinner, when I traumatized at least one of my daughters with my impromptu diatribe, I’d decided to create a soup to accompany the five beautiful rainbow trout they and their cousins took out of the lake. Limited though the choices were at the local supermarket, I settled on a vegetarian option that stood in contrast to odds with my later carnivorous (piscivorous?) rant—garlic soup.

Not that I really knew what garlic soup was when I started.  I just figured if I roasted enough garlic, I would mute the sharpness of the raw garlic enough to make a pound and a half of the stuff more or less palatable. I also assumed I would develop plenty of soup base in the process.

Mission accomplished.

For years I have been making garlic flavored oil by putting several cloves into a cup measure full of olive oil and roasting them in the oven until the cloves are soft and the oil has a fabulous garlic flavor.

That’s just how I started my garlic soup, except that instead of 10-15 cloves, I used 9 heads of garlic broken up into a quart of oil.

Upon roasting the garlic becomes really soft and the sharpness of the raw cloves mellows into something much fuller and richer. If you haven’t had it before, try one of the roasted cloves by itself after it cools enough to squeeze out of its peel. It opens up a whole new landscape for cooking with garlic.

That’s another great thing about roasting garlic. You don’t peel it until it’s done cooking, when it slips out of the peel like one of those gel-filled mobius tubes you find at aquariums.  The ones with only one side that rolls in and around itself as it slips through your hands like a flopping fish.

Onward with the soup.

After cooking the cloves for about an hour, I strained them out of the oil and let them cool enough so I could squeeze them out of their peels.  Then I added them to the stock with the parsley and cream cheese, brought the soup to a boil and reduced it to a simmer for another 15-20 minutes.

Then it was nothing more than pureeing the mixture with an immersion blender, adjusting the seasoning, adding the noodles and boiling then for another 8-12 minutes (depending on what kind of pasta you use) and it was done.

Not only that, you’ve also got a good quart of garlic oil left over for salad dressing, bread dipping, veggie cooking, … You name it.

As for the soup, it came out very garlicky.  Big surprise there.  It tasted great too.  The soup was also well-received by my family—wife, kids, brothers, sisters, mom, dad, et al.  Well, most of them.

Not that you can take anything your family says at face value.

Just look at the nonsense my daughter’s father says to her.

Garlic Soup
(serves 6-8)
1.4 lbs garlic (8-9 heads)
1 quart, oil
3 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups parsley, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces, pasta
Salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Break apart the garlic heads, immerse them in the oil in an oven safe pot and place in the oven to cook for about an hour.
  3. Remove pot from oven and take the garlic out of the oil with a slotted spoon to cool (and to keep it from overcooking), then squeeze out the roasted cloves.
  4. Add the garlic, parsley and cream cheese (According to my mom, goat cheese is a good alternative to cream cheese) to the stock, bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer for another 15-20 minutes before pureeing with an immersion blender.
  5. Add pasta (We used long flat egg noodles which looked great but were hard to eat without making a mess. I recommend something more bite sized.) and cook for 8-12 minutes depending on what pasta you use.
  6. Serve warm garnished with parmesan cheese if you like.

Image Credit: Heads of Garlic image borrowed (with attribution) from the ClipArt file in MS Word.  It’s a nice picture, but it ain’t mine and I admit it.

What’s your favorite garlic recipe?  What’s your pet peeve about garlic?  Mine is burned garlic.  Especially the smell. Put your thoughts in the comments section. I’ll be reading and responding.

2 Comments to “Nine Heads Are Better Than One: Garlic Soup”

  1. Titania says:

    This is one of your best!!!!!!!!!!!! But you still haven’t changed the recipe to indicate that the garlic should be strained out of the hot oil after baking. Have you tried it with goat cheese yet? It’s delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • pcandres says:

      Thanks for the reminder. I amended the recipe to include a step for straining the cloves. Haven’t tried the goat cheese alternative yet. With the one soup a week thing, it’s hard to go back and try the classics. I’ll work on it, though.