We came home after a week of traveling through the Eastern Sierras, to find out we are both sick. We thought it was only colds, but then a certain someone woke up with the flu. While he is laying on the couch watching bad tv, and guzzling tea, I am letting a pot of rich chicken stock simmer. I am also making an old Basque recipe, Basque Garlic Soup.
I remember my great-grandmother, grandmother, Tia, and mother making this soup when I was a child. I hated it. Not because of the garlic, I loved that, the more the better. Instead, it was the soggy bread that sat in your bowl. Some things should not be soggy and bread is one of them. I never was able to get past the moist, gooey bread that was cradling the sweet but pungent garlic broth; I would have rather been sick.
I stumbled upon this recipe by accident one evening when I was intending on making something else. It was good, so good, that I decided to make it perfect as well as gluten-free. This thick soup is flavored with lots of garlic that is slowly cooked with olive oil, a pinch of dried red chilies and is thickened with potatoes instead of bread. The smell of the simmering garlic is almost enough to make you well; but, as you sip each spoonful, your body starts to feel better. Stronger. Happy.
Basque Garlic Soup
1 head of garlic, about 21 – 25 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced into small slivers
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/4 teaspoon dried chili peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups of water
kosher salt to taste
1/2 handful of Italian parsley, washed, dried and minced
sprinkle of piment d’espelette as a garnish
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or large saucepan, over low heat. Add half of the minced garlic, stir and cook until fragrant, about 3 – 5 minutes. Do not let it brown or it will be bitter.
Add the potatoes, stir.
Add the chili pepper, stir.
Add the water and the rest of the garlic, stir and bring to a low boil.
Lower the heat to a very soft simmer and cover.
Let the soup cook until the potatoes are falling apart, about 40 minutes.
Gently mash with a potato masher or in a food processor.
Season to taste with salt. Stir in the parsley.
Gently reheat over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Serve with a sprinkle of piment d’espelette.
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