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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Garlic Soup (and why I don't want to be a vampire)

Garlic Soup
At risk of being devoured by team-Edward fans, I'm gonna have to admit that I do not understand the attraction to vampires.  And by attraction I mean, wanting to date a vampire or be a vampire.  Don't get me wrong, I like a good vampire flick as well as the next person, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna don prosthetic fangs and red...or eerily attractive lenses.

And I'm sure as hell not gonna drink blood for fun.  Sure, I've had my fair share of that metallic-flavored substance touch my tongue...I was a kid once.  I rode bikes and roller skated and jumped rope...and subsequently fell down and scraped my knee...and then licked the blood instead of running in the house.  No time to waste...daylight spends fast!  Don't tell me you didn't do that.  I know you did.  And maybe juuuuust maybe I've even done it a couple times as an adult. But if I did, it was from a knife cut to the finger...pretty sure I can't lick my knee the way I used to.

My point being...I do NOT want to squeeze the cut and fill a cup and then savor it like a cocktail. Oh, and, Ummmm...did I mention that I like food?  A LOT.  Turning into a vampire would mean that I'd have to give up food.  Now that gives me the shivers.  I am also going to admit that I prefer the vampires that I grew up with to those new-age, sparkle-in-the-sun ones.  Now these...these are vampires...

The Lost Boys
Vampires whose skin will burn when it hits the sunlight.  Vampires who will sizzle when squirted by a water gun filled with holy water.  Vampires who sleep hanging upside down in cave-like hideouts.  They're edgy.  They're sexy in an evil sort of way.  They're the kind of vampires that you don't want to find yourself running into in a dark alley.  They require heroes like these guys...
The Frog Brothers and Sam kick their butts.  RIP Corey Haim...  And perhaps the biggest difference of all between old-time vampires and the new-fangled ones (ha!) is that the new ones aren't even adverse to garlic. WTF!?  Wearing a braid of garlic around my neck was my cover, damnit.  I'm not gonna give up my passion cover because the Cullens or perhaps more specifically, their scary counterparts aren't adverse to it. 

What am supposed to tell people when they ask me why I put so much garlic on my pizza...or why I shmear my crusty bread with soft, pungent, roasted garlic...or why I insist on garlic being added to all of my salsas?  I mean, warding off vampires was ALWAYS my explanation.  People get that.  "Oooooh...yeah.  I hear that."  People understood my reasoning. 

Am I now supposed to just say....BECAUSE I LOVE GARLIC!  IT'S MY BOYFRIEND.  I THINK LIFE WOULD BE INCOMPLETE WITHOUT IT!  Huh?  Am I just supposed to say that out loud now?  Sheesh.

And back to my original thoughts...ummmm, helllloooo vampire wanna-be's...vampires don't get to eat FOOD!  I want to be able to eat.  I want to be able to EAT!  I want enjoy the comforting feeling I get when I'm outside taking a walk and something glorious is wafting from one of my neighbors houses.  I want to eat lots and lots and lots of this garlic soup...

Garlic Soup
from the kitchen of girlichef (adapted from Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook)
yield: ~1½ qt.

3 large heads GARLIC
~1 c. olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
1½ qts. hot chicken stock
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
ground cayenne pepper
~½ loaf Cheddar Serrano Bread (or any thick, crusty bread), cut into large cubes
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Peel the garlic, leaving cloves whole.  Place in small pot and cover with olive oil.  Heat over very low flame until the garlic is very tender, adding the thyme sprigs after 10 minutes.  The whole process will take ~20 minutes.  Strain the garlic, saving the oil.  Put garlic in a large pot with the hot stock and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.  Strain the soup through a sieve.  You can discard the garlic cloves at this point...but me, in ongoing pursuit to ward off vampires, I like to just push the smooshy garlic right through the sieve back into the soup.  This is not for the faint of's serious, garlicky goodness in a bowl.  Season the soup with salt, pepper and a good pinch of cayenne pepper.

While the soup is cooking, brush some of the reserved garlic oil on the cubes of bread, place them on a lined sheet tray, and bake them in a 375°F oven for ~15 minutes, or until golden and very crunchy.  If you like, rub them with a bit of the smooshed garlic, if you didn't add it back to the soup.

When you're ready to serve the soup, add as many croutons as you'd like to your bowl...I like a lot...and then grate some fresh parmesan over the croutons.
Ladle the hot soup over the cheese and croutons and eat immediately.
Garlic Soup
I love popping one of the cheesy croutons into my mouth when it is permeated with the garlicky broth.  If you've used a good bread and toasted it until it was very crunchy, the croutons will hold that liquid inside while still staying crusty around the edges...aaaahhhhhhh.  

Vampires can't do that.  Shape shifters on the other hand.  They need lots of food to keep up their energy, feed their high metabolism, and satiate their oh-so-hot hunger!  They run hot, they're gorgeous...sign me up for team-Jacob...oh wait, I'm already a member.