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Garlic Soup

by Jane Worthington-Roth

Recently, I was fortunate to have taken cooking lessons in Prague, Czech Republic. One of the local specialties we learned to make was Czech Garlic Soup. If you’re a garlic lover, this is the recipe for you! Simmering the garlic sweetens it and mellows the flavor, losing its garlicky-bite.

Although the Czechs are convinced that Garlic Soup is the perfect hangover cure, I can’t attest to its benefits on that front. But I know that the entire country loves Garlic Soup and often uses it as a cure-all for colds, just as we use chicken soup here in the US. Classically, caraway seeds - which also help calm the stomach - are added to the soup, and they top the soup with grated cheese and fried rye bread cubes/croutons.

I know that the Garlic Soup recipe I made in cooking class came out well because our teacher, the Chef, had four bowls of it and the entire cooking school staff then came over to finish off the pot!

With cooler weather nipping at our heels and Halloween around the corner, make a pot of Garlic Soup. It’ll keep you warm and on Halloween the garlic will be sure to keep the Vampires away! You can call it “Bram Stoker’s Garlic Soup” in honor of the man who made the legend of vampires famous in his classic film “Dracula.”

Garlic Soup

2 tablespoons butter (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
6 cups vegetable stock
2 large potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Grated Swiss cheese and rye bread croutons, for serving

Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat and sauté the onion until translucent, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook on low for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Be careful not to brown the garlic at all or it will become bitter-tasting and you’ll have to start all over again with a new batch.

Stir in the stock, potatoes, salt, caraway seeds, marjoram and pepper and bring to a boil, then gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Note: at this point, the Chef had me stir in a large tablespoon of lard (yes, LARD), which added a delicious flavor and silkiness to the soup. However, this step is optional, although you could stir in a pat of butter with similar results.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls, then top with grated cheese and rye croutons.