Today is Garlic Day! Yes, Garlic Day!
A day to celebrate this tiny but mighty bulb. It is related to onions and shallots and its botanical genus is Allium – a word derived from the Greek word for garlic! And did you know most of the garlic in the U.S. is grown in California? If you’re out that way, check out the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July. We have an Elephant Garlic Festival here in the upper Willamette Valley in August – these festivals are a fun way to learn about garlic and taste unusual foods like garlic beer or garlic ice cream (yes, it sounds strange but it really is quite good)! And garlic has a lot of health benefits too! It’s full of manganese, vitamins B-6 and C. It’s low-calorie and has been shown to help the common cold, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ward off dementia and simply helps you live longer!
The bulbs you buy in the grocery store are just one of MANY types of garlic. There are soft necks and hard necks – The ones you find at the grocery stores are usually soft necked. These varieties last longer and have more cloves per head. They are also the best for using raw or lightly cooked.
The hard necked varieties have long, hard and woody stems – these are the ones that produce more flowers and the greens, or scapes, are also delicious! You have fewer cloves, but the flavor has a hot or spicy intensity. They tend to have a rosy hue and thinner skins. You can often find these at farmer’s markets (my favorite place!). They don’t store as long, so you’ll need to use them up. Great for sauces or roasts.
And there is elephant garlic. It’s not a true garlic, but rather more closely related to the onion. It’s mild garlicy taste is perfect for salads, garnishes, or soup!
What you need:
- 1 head of elephant garlic (all but one “toe”)
- 2 heads of regular garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 leeks, sliced – white part and very small part of green only
- 4 cloves of crushed regular garlic
- 6-8 slices of bacon, chopped
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish – the extra “toe”
- 3 green onions, sliced
How to Do it:
Roast the heads of both types, saving out the one elephant “toe”. Brush with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and roast at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes until it is soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In a large kettle, cook the bacon on medium-low until it starts to crisp. Pour off all but about 2 Tablespoons of bacon fat, then add the leeks and crushed garlic.
Cook on medium-low until the leeks are tender. Be careful not to burn the garlic – it gets bitter.
Stir in the broth, loosening all the little bits in the bottom of the pan.
Squeeze the elephant garlic out and chop (they sort of mash) 3 of the toes. Add this to the broth.
Squeeze the roasted cloves from the skin of the heads of regular garlic. In a blender, puree the remainder of the roasted elephant garlic, roasted cloves and 2 cups of half and half. As it is blending, add in ¼ cup flour and puree until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the mixture into the pan and simmer until it begins to thicken.
While it’s simmering, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Slice the raw “toe” of elephant garlic and fry until it is lightly browned and crisp. Remove it from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Serve the soup hot with toasted garlic slice and green onions on top. And on the side, what else? Garlic toast!
© Copyright 2018 The Lazy Gastronome
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