Peasant medicine

BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS, The Curious Cook
Posted 1/10/20

This week’s recipe is most definitely peasant food. The ingredients are cheap, but require time to coax out the very best of each one. It’s garlic soup, and a bowl of this feels like a fragrant hug from that Italian grandmother you never had.

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Peasant medicine

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Posted

The queen has banned garlic from the kitchens of Buckingham Palace and Balmorel Castle.

But multiple studies have concluded that it can prevent colds and flu, or shorten the duration of ones you do get. It can also improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart attacks through better cholesterol levels.

As a proud member of the peasant class, I’m a big advocate of Bronx vanilla (an actual slang term for garlic).

This week’s recipe is most definitely peasant food. The ingredients are cheap, but require time to coax out the very best of each one. It’s garlic soup, and a bowl of this feels like a fragrant hug from that Italian grandmother you never had.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at dm@bullcity.mom.

Garlic Soup

Garlic confit (recipe follows)

1/4 to 1/3 cup garlic oil (from the confit process)

1 loaf country bread, something rustic and crusty, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes, crust and all

1 cup white wine

2 quarts chicken stock

3-4 cups water

6 bay leaves

3/4 cup heavy cream

salt & pepper

Garlic confit:

35 (yes, 35) cloves garlic, peeled

4-5 cups oil (I used combo of olive and canola)

Salt & pepper

In a very heavy large pot, put in garlic and cover with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set on very low, just above warm. Cook slowly in oil until cloves are a light caramel color, approximately four hours. Cool, and remove garlic from your new garlic oil. You will have more than you need for this recipe, so put the excess oil into a container and refrigerate; it can be used for a gazillion things.

In the same pot, toast the bread cubes in the garlic oil, a couple of handfuls of bread with a couple of tablespoons of oil at a time. This brown crusty goodness on the bread translates into tons of flavor.

When all the bread is toasted, put it all back into the pan, along with the garlic confit. Toss together a bit, and then deglaze with the wine.

When the wine is cooked off, pour in all the stock, stir, cover, and cook very low for about 20 minutes.

Uncover, stir, and add more water, because the bread will absorb it like crazy. Keep cooking slowly, and adding water until it is the consistency of a cream soup.

Season with salt and pepper. Add and taste until the amount is correct, and an extra dimension of flavor is revealed, that will literally make you sigh. This soup is simple, so please don’t neglect this.

Cook for two or three more hours, and then either use a hand blender or a regular blender for it until it’s completely smooth. Stir in cream, check for final seasoning, and keep warm (don’t let boil) until service.

Yield: one humongous pot of seriously yummy soup. Garnish with onion straws.

Onion Straws

1 large yellow onion

Buttermilk

Hot sauce (optional)

Flour

Salt & Pepper

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Vegetable oil for frying

Cut onion in half, peel and slice into very thin half moons. Pour 2-3 cups of buttermilk into bowl and season with hot sauce if desired. Drop in sliced onions and let soak for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 inches of oil in large heavy pot to 350°.

Drain onions and set a sieve over a large bowl. Place onions in sieve and heavily sprinkle with seasoned flour. Toss to coat. Fry in batches until golden (3-4 minutes). Place on paper towels in low oven, sprinkle with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

Makes enough for 6 bowls of soup plus more for snacking. Also terrific on burgers.

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