The amount of garlic used to create the broth for this soup might be scary to some. Back in my own prehistoric days, before I’d learned how to properly cook let alone properly enjoy a head of garlic, I would have shied away from this. I’ve always been an adventurous eater, but being an adventurous cook takes courage, and that was a courage I had to build. Now, since conquering many garlic-filled recipes, including the version of Garlic, Greans and Beans
I have blogged here, I am addicted to the healing, warming flavor. This soup is just that, something you can go to when you feel a cold coming on or something to warm you up after an unusually frigid day when it’s supposed to be spring. It was cloudy, rainy and cold all week. I hadn’t seen the sun in days, but the yellow hue of this soup gets me feeling bright. And luckily today the sun came out!
Another aspect of this soup that I like is its easy adaptation to pantry ingredients. You can make the broth ahead and freeze it, which I’ve done. You can stock your cabinets with small pasta, your freezer with frozen spinach, your spice rack with the perfect dried herbs, and always have a carton of eggs and a container of grated Parmesan in the refrigerator. If you do all those things, which are habits I keep, then you can make this soup whenever you need it, or whenever there’s nothing else on the menu.
A final note: making this soup has taught me how to properly temper an egg, and has gotten me hooked on the easiest and, in my opinion, healthiest way to thicken a soup or quick sauce. It’s the secret behind Carbonara and my favorite way to add extra protein to a quick mac’n’cheese.
Pantry Garlic Soup
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Recipes for Health Column in the NY Times
Dec. 3, 2008
Broth (half batch, double if storing)
1 quart water
1 head garlic
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1/2 cup small pasta, like shells or orichiette
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound fresh greens or 8 oz. frozen
Salt and pepper for serving
To make the broth, remove the garlic cloves from their papery shells by either blanching them or just smashing each clove and removing the skin. I use the latter method because smashing the garlic lets it release more flavor into the broth. Then add the cloves, water and bay leaf to a pot and simmer for an hour. Taste and add salt as desired. Strain into a bowl and the broth is ready. If storing, let cool completely before freezing. If you hate to waste and are nutty for garlic (like me) you can salt the boiled cloves and eat them as a snack.For the soup, heat the broth to a simmer and add the pasta. Separate two yolks from two eggs and set aside. You can save your whites, as I recently learned from NPR, by freezing them also. When the pasta is nearly al dente, scoop out 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Then add the greens to the pot. Continue to simmer until greens are wilted and pasta is done. In the meantime, in a bowl whisk the pasta water into the eggs, stirring constantly. Once the pasta is done, turn off the heat and add the tempered eggs to the soup. Stir to desired consistency. I made this batch a bit watery. If you keep stirring, the soup should thicken.
Set out two bowls. Drop a tablespoon of parmesan into the bottom of each and pour in the soup. Add salt, pepper and more cheese to taste. Serve with crusty bread.