In an exquisite feat of timing, my children fell ill this week in highly choreographed fashion. Gabriel went first, spiking a fever on Sunday evening. Sarah came home early from school on Monday, and Sacha woke up sick in the middle of the night. I thought this most considerate of them, as it means we'll get this round over with quickly, whereas if they'd staggered their sickness, I would be housebound for the better part of a week.
We had a very pleasant day, in part because the kids were too sick to be demanding, and spent the time alternating between napping and sitting in front of the television in a stupor. I did get breathed and coughed on a lot, however, which left me wondering how many days it will be until I fall ill.
And so when it came time to prepare dinner, I thought of garlic soup. I started making garlic soup years ago, inspired by a recipe in John Thorne's excellent Outlaw Cook. Research is beginning to confirm the folk wisdom that garlic may help ward off colds. I knew my kids would hate it, but as they had no appetite, I didn't have to worry about feeding them, so why not try to stack the odds against getting sick in my favor?
Garlic soup is quick and easy. You boil garlic in water, mash the garlic into a paste and return to the water, which is then enriched with eggs. Boiling the garlic tames its pungency into something delicate, while the eggs give the soup body. In all, it is a great demonstration of one of the most awesome things about soup, in that you can make something delicious from practically nothing.
I serve this with bread or croutons, but plain boiled rice would also work.
6 cups water
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
a few sage leaves or sprigs of thyme, optional
salt and pepper
a few slices of crusty bread
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring the water, garlic, bay leaf, herbs and a teaspoon of salt to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook until the garlic softens, 15-20 minutes. Remove garlic and mash to a paste in a mortar, or with the flat of a knife. Return garlic to the pot.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, and slowly add to this a ladle-full of the cooking liquid, whisking constantly. Whisk the eggs into the pot and stir over very low heat. If the soup comes to a boil, the eggs will curdle, which is not a tragedy. Adjust seasoning.
Meanwhile, broil or toast the bread, and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place in the bottom of soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the bread, garnish with additional herbs and a drizzle of olive oil, or not.