Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Roasted Garlic Soup

You may think from the title of this post that this is some ordinary soup you might like when it's snowy or rainy outside. You're right. This soup is so good when it's cold outside, and it's my favorite soup of all time. It's also absolutely delicious and appropriate in late spring or summer, with its bright flavors matched with the warmth of a rich broth and sweet, slow-roasted garlic. In fact, this soup is fantastic everyday, though I recommend only having it about twice a week, so you can try other things in between.

The other very nice thing about this soup is that it's a cinch to prepare and crowd-pleasing, since you add almost all the ingredients at the table and can cater to individual tastes (very handy with children, you know).

Did I mention this is my very favorite soup? It leaves you feeling satisfied but not heavy, since the protein from the chicken and creaminess from the avocado and feta cheese fill you up, but the tomatoes, cilantro, and lime lift the palate with some of the best south-of-the-border flavor combinations. The dish is similar to one found in Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless, the great source for Mexican cuisine, but I've altered it fairly significantly to my tastes. I like the clear broth while Chef Bayless instructs you to stir an egg in at the end to make it nice and creamy. I also like the taste of a fresh cheese, while he recommends dry Jack or Parmesan. And he puts the roasted garlic olive oil to use by making croutons, which is a lovely addition but not necessary if you're going for a quick meal.

There's not much more to say, since it's a very simple dish, so I'll get right to the recipe, but you should try this soon.

Roasted Garlic Soup
my adaptation from Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless

1 roasted chicken - rotisserie from the store is a fabulous choice here
1 head garlic
3/4 c. olive oil
4 to 6 Roma tomatoes
1 to 2 avocadoes, ripe but still a bit firm
1 lime, wedged or cut in half
6 to 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. feta cheese (or queso fresco)
Kosher salt

Remove the chicken from the bones and refrigerate. Set the remaining chicken pieces - bones, skin, etc. - in a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 to 4 hours, whatever you have time for.

Remove the skin or paper from all of the garlic cloves and slice them into 1/8" pieces. Bring the olive oil with the garlic to a slight simmer in a small saucepan over very low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, being sure to maintain the slight simmer without the oil coming to a full boil or cooling off too much. This is the most difficult part of the process, but it shouldn't be too bad. After 15 minutes, check to see if the garlic is nice and soft. If not, cook for about another 5 minutes, but don't brown the garlic as this will form a crust on the outside that you do not want for this dish.

Strain the olive oil from the garlic, return the garlic to the saucepan and add 4 to 6 cups of the chicken stock you've just made. Taste ('s very hot) for salt. Keep this over low heat just long enough to prepare the other ingredients.

Warm about 2 cups of the chicken in a serving dish. Chop the tomatoes and avocados and set them in small dishes, as well as the lime, cheese, and cilantro.

To serve, have each individual fill theirPublish Post bowl with a bit of all of the items, including a squeeze of lime, and top with a couple ladles full of soup. Serves 4.


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