There are many — oh so many — benefits to working from home, but one serious drawback is that there’s no one to talk to. Sure, there’s the dog, but he only ever wants to talk about one thing:
Are we going for a walk? When are we going for a walk? Remember that walk yesterday? Yeah, that was a great one. But not as great as today’s walk is gonna be. Speaking of which, are we going for a walk?
He’s a darling dog, but the conversation gets a bit stale.
Then there are the cats:
Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?
And the goats:
Feeeeed us! Looooove us! Scraaaatch us behind the ears.
I enjoy that conversation. To a point.
Sometimes, though, it’s rather nice to communicate with human beings, especially human beings who have a sense of humor, like to read good books, enjoy cooking and baking new things, and have a serious relationship with garlic.
I feel lucky to know — virtually — two such beings: Kelly (at Something Shiny) and Daniel (at Ährelich Gesagt). Kelly and Daniel are fellow Bread Baker’s Apprentice challengers, bloggers, and people I’ve just generally enjoyed getting to know via our mutual friend, the Internet.
I don’t remember how the love-of-garlic conversation started between Kelly and Daniel, but at some point I joined in and mentioned that I had a bit of a garlic problem myself (remember the year I planted our entire garden with garlic? Yeah, that kind of problem…).
And then Daniel mentioned this garlic soup that he’d been wanting to make for ages. And the next thing you know, all three of us are signed on to make the soup, plus — because we all love to bake bread — the accompanying walnut bread, and then write about it on our blogs.
So here we are.
And let me tell you, if you love garlic, you must make this soup, because it’s beautiful and mellow and full of garlic goodness. You can eat it warm. You can eat it cold. You can probably ladle it on fish as a delicate sauce. You can add vegetables. You will want to eat it when you have a head cold. If you love garlic, you may even want to bathe in it. (Of course, then maybe no one else will want to get near you for awhile, but I tell you it will be worth the sacrifice.)
The process of making the soup is fairly straightforward, as long as you take some real care at the end of the recipe to be patient and work slowly to incorporate the egg/cheese/oil mixture into the broth. You can read the full recipe on the fabulous 101 Cookbooks blog, but here’s a brief overview of what you’ll be doing:
- Smash and then chop a dozen cloves of garlic.
- Add the garlic, plus a bay leaf, a couple sage leaves, about a teaspoon of fresh thyme, and a little salt to four cups of water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf and sage leaves.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together two egg yolks plus one egg, then slowly whisk 1/4 cup olive oil to create an emulsion.
- Whisk in 1.5 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese.
- SLOWLY whisk about a cup of the garlic broth into the egg mixture.
- Then SLOWLY whisk the egg mixture into the rest of the broth, over low heat, until the soup thickens.
Where I wrote “SLOWLY” above, I mean it. The recipe is very simple to make, but the one tricky part is making sure that you don’t curdle the eggs by cooking them too quickly with the hot broth. If you add the broth to the egg mixture in a very slow stream, whisking continuously, and then do the same when you add the egg mixture to the rest of the broth, you’ll be fine. Also, be conservative in the final cooking stage. It only takes a few minutes, so there’s no need to hurry it along. Start with a very low flame and then gradually raise it to medium-low and keep on whisking. It will thicken, and when it gets to a smooth, silky, non-watery consistency, take it off the heat, immediately.
Did I mention that I love this soup? Because I do. And that sort of surprised me because I really don’t like eggs. I mean, I love eggs as objects and what they do in baking, but I can’t stand the taste of egg, and I was a bit worried that this soup would taste like egg soup. It doesn’t. It tastes like full-flavored, smooth garlic, without a single bitter edge.
I see I’ve rambled on quite a bit about the soup without discussing the bread very much. Although the three of us agreed on using the same soup recipe, we were left to our own devices to find a walnut bread recipe. I had a hankering for a garlic ficelle that our local bakery makes, but I couldn’t find a recipe, so I went in search of a walnut baguette instead. I didn’t really find one of those either, but I did land on this Apple Walnut Fondue Bread recipe at the King Arthur Flour web site (which, coincidentally, Kelly did, too!). I omitted the apples, added a few more walnuts than the recipe called for, and used some whole wheat flour in the poolish to give the bread a bit of extra heartiness.
During kneading, I also added about a 1/4 cup more water than the recipe called for because the dough seemed drier than I wanted. I think I could have added even more water, but the resulting loaf turned out moist and full of nutty flavor. It’s a simple bread to make, requiring you to mix a simple poolish of yeast, water, and flour the night before baking; the next day, all you have to do is chop and toast the walnuts, add the rest of the ingredients to the poolish (flour, salt, yeast), knead it all together, let rise for 90 minutes, shape, proof for an hour, then bake. I followed Mr. Reinhart’s hearth baking method because I’m used to doing bread that way, but the recipe doesn’t require it.
The soup recipe calls for tearing up some of the walnut bread and putting it in the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the soup (which Michael did). Anyone who knows me knows that one of the things I truly loathe is wet bread, so I skipped that. I did, however, dunk a piece of bread in the soup just to see. They tasted mighty fine together.
Daniel and Kelly, thank you so much for being out there, for being amazing cooks, and for being garlic fiends. I’m so glad to know you!
We’ve a storm brewing here and the lights just blinked off and on a few times, so I’ll wrap things up here in hopes of posting before we lose power.