Saturday, March 21, 2009

Creamy Garlic Soup

While in Vienna earlier this month, I had an excellent Knoblauchcremesuppe (creamy garlic soup) at Pizzeria Salieri and have been meaning to try to recreate a similar soup at home. Doing research, I wasn't surprised to see that the recipes for the Austrian version call for eggs--the Austrians really like their eggs and even put them on pizza. The pizza, by the way, was very good, even with the egg on top staring back at you. It did make that portion of the thin crust soggy, though.

Having an idea of a general gist from the recipes, I headed to the kitchen to make my own low-fat, low-sodium, high-garlic version. Many recipes call for the soup to be pureed which I (and the restaurant) did not do as I like the texture of the garlic bits that sink to the bottom of the bowl.

A note on how much garlic to use: recipes range anywhere from a few cloves to as much as 6-10 heads of garlic. You'll note that the recipes that call for the most garlic have you use the cloves whole (not chopped up) and to puree the finished result. This is because whole garlic has a mellower flavour. When you chop garlic, you release the oils and chemicals that give garlic its pungent taste. If you like garlic, chop away, cook immediately (before the taste gets bitter) and use far less. Also, make sure your garlic is firm and fresh. You'll be disappointed if you cheat and use pre-chopped garlic as the taste won't be there.

Being the non-measurer, taste as you go sorta cook, this is roughly how my version went:

Since I was cooking for one, I used a medium sized saucepan with a dollop of olive oil in the bottom. I started chopping away at a head of garlic and stopped about 2/3 of the way through when the amount looked good in the pan. It was probably about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of fresh chopped garlic. I sauteed on low heat to soften the garlic but not brown it.

I had some leftover stock from a St. Patrick's day boiled dinner and threw in 2 ladlefuls, tasted, figured it was stocky/salty enough and added a cup of water. It was still a bit stocky, so I added another cup which tasted better. If you like a bit thicker soup and don't mind the carbs, throw in a potato. I had one leftover from the boiled dinner so in that went. Simmer for 15 or so minutes until the garlic and potato are softened and mash the potato down.

I like the taste of canned milk, so I poured some in til the soup looked the right colour, it was probably about 1/4 cup. I tasted to see if it needed anything else (I had visions of throwing in some parmesan or perhaps some ricotta I had in the fridge), but it tasted really good as-is. Most recipes call for croutons or toasted baguette on top. I went for toasted rye with hummus on the side instead of in the soup bowl.

Bon appetit!

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