So, I’m sick. It started with a sore throat about a week ago, then when that resolved, turned into a wicked case of laryngitis. My voice is returning slowly, but I’ve had headaches, a lot of fatigue, and an annoying cough. I also may have hacked up a small alien larva this morning. Gross.
Thus, I spent my evening making garlic soup. I should use this post as a reminder to myself to freeze some and put it by, for the next time someone is ill… if I don’t eat it all.
I recommend this soup highly, not because of woo about garlic. Most of its antimicrobial properties disappear when you cook it. This soup will, however, help clear out gunk that is living in your upper respiratory system, comfort you like a fluffy blanket and a hug, and is guaranteed to resolve a headache and give you some energy when you’re dragging all the butts and feeling like garbage. It’s also lovely for helping to break a fever. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, which is another big help. So, make some of this, and put it by for the next time you or someone you love has a case of the yuck.
4-5 heads — yes, heads — of garlic
3-4 onions, diced (I only quarter mine, so that T can pick them out, but its better if you dice them)
2T of butter
1 Quart of poultry stock — ideally, use bone broth, but sometimes, you gotta make do with the boxed stuff, like I did this evening.
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme.
A container of shiitake mushrooms
1T lemongrass paste — always have this on hand, it’s brilliant.
A decent sized nugget of ginger, peeled and minced.
Hot hungarian paprika or Cayenne pepper to taste (I’m a bit heavy handed with it, so I use about 3/4 of a tablespoon.
A few tablespoons of olive or coconut oil, whichever you prefer.
Salt of your choosing. Black pepper (fresh cracked is always best).
A fresh lemon or lime.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Have yourself some tea, or a nice glass of wine. You’ve had a long day, probably went to work feeling lousy, and you should do what you can to enjoy the process of doing something nice for yourself.
Cut the tops off of the garlic heads. Try to make sure each clove is exposed. Don’t peel them. Coat the heads in your oil of choice, sprinkle with a little salt, and wrap them in foil. When the oven is done heating, put them in for about 45-50 minutes.
While those are roasting, do yourself a favor, and prepare your mise en place. There’s a fancy french way to say everything in the kitchen, and that means cutting up and separating your ingredients in advance, or “putting them in their place”. Dice your onions, mince that ginger, take the lemongrass paste out of the fridge, and gather your other ingredients. Once everything is set out nicely, admire your work. Mise en place can help calm your mind, and imposes order on a chaotic universe. Enjoy the order. And your wine or tea.
When the oven timer dings for your garlic, take it out of the oven, and carefully unwrap it, and place it in a dish or bowl to cool. When the heads are cool enough to handle with your hands, squeeze from the base of the garlic and pinch toward the top. The cloves should squeeze out either whole, or in a paste. Either outcome is fine. Let that all sit in a dish.
Warm up a medium to large saucepan at medium-high. Brown your butter just a bit. When it starts to foam, place your onions, ginger, and mushrooms in the pan. Let that all cook until the onions are translucent and the edges are just starting to brown. On my gas stove, this takes about 6 minutes.
Add the thyme to the mix. When it becomes fragrant, add the whole quart of stock, and all the garlic. Bring that glorious mess up to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.
Cover, and let that do magical things for around 20 to 30 minutes. Go finish up that wine or tea. Pet a cat, or watch something you love on Netflix (I watch Twin Peaks when I don’t feel well).
When the timer goes off, uncover your soup, and add the lemongrass paste, some fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a can of coconut milk. stir, and when it seems happy and integrated, kill the heat.
Ladle yourself a nice generous portion, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste.
I’d note here that you can add other ingredients to this that work very well. Asparagus and bok choy have both been welcome additions in the past, but don’t force yourself to make a special trip out.
If you’ve got a terrible cough, you can add a touch of honey to this to finish it to soothe that awful mess, or just enjoy it with some rooibos tea.
Make sure you drink a glass of water when you’re done, because that’s important when you don’t feel well.
Go ahead, have a second bowl. You’ll feel better, I promise.