A Big Bowlful of Dorie's Cure-All Garlic Soup
A bevy of interesting new cookbooks came my way as special Christmas gifts. Alice Waters; New York Times; Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc along with his sumptuous Bouchon, which can be described as food porn at its best. As my gift-giving sister-in-law described it, "There's a recipe for quiche that takes two days!" All of these wish-list books are inspiring, but the one that has grabbed my imagination first is Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.
My Baby and I spent our first married Christmas in San Francisco at the home of his sister, enjoying the company of his three siblings and their mates (some from Belgium, from which one cookbook came as you can see, and some from Virginia), a young niece who had come from her school in India, and his mother (who had also made her way from Virginia.) On our long day's drive home I felt a sore throat and head cold come on. As I was thumbing through Dorie's book, I noted a recipe that she calls Côte de Azur Cure-All Soup. Bingo.
I love breaking in a new hard-back cookbook!
Last year, I'd used a similar recipe several times from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog. I'd served the soup in demitasse cups as a warming appetizer for guests, and in bowls as our meal another time. The soup bore a rustic yet elegant grace that I love which comes from minimally intervening with simple, whole foods. It struck me as a soup that would be perfect to make whenever someone wasn't feeling well... It just has the feel of having healing properties, and I'm happy to pass it on before the full thrust of cold and flu season hits. The ingredient list was for the most part (whole eggs vs. egg yolks alone) the same as Dorie's recipe, but the ratios and technique (no olive oil mixed with the yolks in Dorie's version) are subtly different. I couldn't wait to make Dorie's interpretation the next day.
A Few Simple Ingredients
This soup is easy as anything you've ever made, uses only a few ingredients which most of us have around, and is ready to eat in less than 45 minutes. Layed out for you here is the stripped-down version of the recipe, but do seek out her book. She includes beautiful photos, great history and modern French form.
Côte d'Azur Cure-All Soup
1 large head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
(Dorie "takes garlic down a notch" in all of her recipes by cutting the clove in half vertically and removing the green germ, which I find unnecessary.)
We are lucky enough to use garlic grown locally by our friends, Chip and Toni.
This is my favorite tool for slicing quantities of garlic paper-thin. I found it in my local produce department years ago for under five dollars. In this recipe, the thinner the garlic the better, as far as I'm concerned, as more surface area is exposed to release flavor as well as for a light, elegant finished texture to the soup. The broth is delightfully tasty, but each spoonful contains just tender whispers of garlic slices. Very nice.
6 fresh sage leaves, 2 large thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves tied together in a bouquet garni with kitchen twine.
Toss the sliced garlic, bouquet garni, one quart of good chicken stock and 2 cups water into a 4-quart soup pot. Add one teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk 3 (and up to 6) egg yolks with 3 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese (one cup.) When I'd made the soup before, I used the maximum quantity of eggs, but loved the light, refined texture that only three provided this time.
After the broth and garlic mixture has simmered for 30 minutes, remove the bouquet garni. Whisk a couple of ladlefuls of broth into the egg/cheese mixture until smooth, then slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot with the broth. Remove the pot from the heat, whisking for another minute. The eggs will ever so slightly thicken the broth. Gentle residual heat is all that is needed at this time to keep the eggs from curdling.
Drizzle the soup with some fruity olive oil before serving.
The Cure-All name of this recipe isn't an exaggeration. A couple bowlsful of this soup and I was as good as new.
Oh, there is so much fun to be had with these books that I can hardly wait. I'll be sure to share when we come across special hits. And, many thanks to my new family-by-marriage for creating such a memorable holiday and birthday this year.