Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sweet Love at the Farmer's Market

by hungry rabbit

Spring produce at the Farmer's Market is seductive. It delivers flavors with delicate textures, subtle sweetness, and a tease of promises for the rest of the season. It awakens your palette and overtakes all of your senses. Still, it retains shyness--like a child who sings with a big adult voice but remains a youngster.

Young garlic (Alium Sativum) bulbs have appeared all over the market. They don't have papery skin or developed individual bulbs. These single bulbs are tender, meaty and can be eaten in their entirety. The flavor is sweeter and more subtle than its sharper older sibling. 

Spring Garlic Soup is a great way to fully enjoy the fresh delicate essence of young garlic. The recipe uses a combination of preparations to maximize the garlic's full potential. The leek adds earthiness, while the pasta lends a silky texture (This is a great way to add creaminess without fat). Try it with a crispy garnish of garlic chips, bacon bits, fried leeks, or garlic croutons.

Spring Garlic Soup
recipe by hungry rabbit, 2010
make 2 quarts

2 small leeks, rinsed, cut in half lenghwise and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 spring garlic bulbs, trim root end and green tops, leave about a 1 inch neck (see photo in soup pot)
8 cups water (you can use vegetable stock, but I like the purity of flavor from water)
1/4 cups pasta (I use broken up spaghetti but any kind will do)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons half n half/heavy cream (optional)
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
Extra-Virgin Olive oil for garnish (optional)

1. Heat dutch oven with olive oil and butter on medium heat. Sauté leeks until soften, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds.

2. Add water, garlic bulbs, pasta, salt, white pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until garlic bulbs are soft. It will take on a translucent texture. (If you can pierce the bulb easily with a knife, it's done)

3.  Let the soup cool slightly. Puree in blender until smooth. Return to dutch oven and bring it to a simmer.

4. If soup is too think, thin it with a bit of water. Adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in heavy cream (if use).

5. Laddle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If you are making soup ahead of time or want to freeze it. Prepare soup to Step 3. Proceed with Step 4 and 5 when you are ready to serve. You can also make this with regular garlic bulbs. Substitute young garlic bulbs with 2 small head of garlic. Cut top off as you would in roasting garlic. Squeeze soften garlic from papery skin, after it's cooked, back into the soup and continue with Step 3.

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