This last batch gurgled near my heating vent for a full 24 hours, and the loaf came out riddled with an almost fluffy, air-pocket riddled interior. I had to stop myself from jumping up and mixing up another batch when I tasted it.
I used to sort of pride myself on my culinary adventurousness. What, Sarah, will you cook for dinner tonight? Squid? Anchovy stuffed flowers? Trout custard? But these days, all I can think about is: what will go with the bread? Yes, that proverbial "crusty loaf of bread" that is regularly suggested as an accompaniment to this or that dish has become, in recent weeks, the main course. Once I have a batch of dough rising, I start thinking about what to serve with it. The answer has become a welcome refrain: Soup. Soup. Soup.
Whether you're of the dunking persuasion (as I am), or the alternating slurp of soup, bite of bread persuasion (as my husband is), you can't go wrong with soup and bread. Well, all of you no knead bread aficionados, I've had the fortune of hitting upon the ultimate bread accompaniment. It's a sort of measly looking soup...maybe even unappealing. But if the smell doesn't have you salivating in the kitchen, the taste will have you licking your bowl. Or sponging it clean with your no knead bread.
This soup packs a mean punch, and behind its fist are no fewer than 44 cloves of garlic. I found it on epicurious.com where it has earned a remarkable amount of reviews. Its the sort of soup, I suppose, that inspires commentary. While it earned an almost unparalleled amount of rare 4 forks ratings (epicurious readers being on the stingy side of online recipe reviewers), many fans nevertheless felt that caveats were in order:
"I must add the discouraging fact that you will smell like garlic for 24 hours after eating this. I had this last night and still only taste garlic when I eat anything. BEWARE!!"
"I was the only one in my house who ate it..and all I got when i came into to contact with anyone..my husband..kids..mom etc...was.."boy do u smell!!""
"I loved it but my husband (who normally loves garlic) did not! He threatened to sleep on the couch my dragon breath was so bad! I will make it again for myself when he is away on business."
One reviewer remarked on another one of this soup's olfactory effects:
"Wowza, if the Queen of England was coming over for dinner, I would feel proud serving this phenom soup!"
"I have made this several times and get nothing but raves, as a matter of fact we have renamed it "Sex in a soup.""
"I made a grown man cry with this soup. But he is one of my more enlightened friends."
Be your friends enlightened or not, I fully recommend this soup. In the words of one reviewer, however, I do suggest you "insist that BOTH partners of a couple partake."
Roasted Garlic Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 1999. Recipe from Charleston Grill, Charleston, SC.
Serves 4. To be eaten with No Knead Bread.
26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 1/4 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
18 garlic cloves, peeled
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 lemon wedges
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 26 unpeeled garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 35 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.
2. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.Rewarmm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)
4. Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve to accompany bread.