Garlic Soup

Lottie claimed she hated garlic. It was somewhat of  a mystery to my mom and me because she most definitely did not hate garlic. She loved foods that contained garlic— pizza, all Italian food, sausage, garlic bread (yes, garlic bread). I guess she just didn’t like the idea of garlic? Food preferences are weird and my grandma remains a mystery, but I know she wouldn’t have gone anywhere near this soup.

This soup has a lot of garlic in it—a garlic lovers soup, if you will. I love it. In addition to being exceedingly satisfying, it is a pleasure to make. All of that peeling of garlic forces you to slow down and gives you room to think (I mostly thought about Bates and Anna). The finished soup is so deeply and complexly flavored that a small bowl does the trick. We ate it with a big green salad and some Parmesan toasts. It is a wonderful winter meal.

The recipe suggests you squeeze some lemon over the soup before eating. This is not optional and is an example of the danger of substitutions and exclusions. That squeeze of lemon takes the soup from good to great. We tried it without and with a splash of sherry vinegar instead, trust me, it needs the lemon.

Garlic Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 14 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth**
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 14 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and water; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 25 minutes. Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

**If you have homemade chicken stock you should definitely use it—you can even use 4 cups. The water is my solution to canned chicken broth, which I almost never like the flavor of, the water is simply diluting it.

***I made it through this whole post without mentioning vampires!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


48 comments to “Garlic Soup”

  1. I’ve been considering making a garlic soup for a while now. I’m happy to have the suggestion! I won’t forget the lemon :)

  2. Where was Lottie from? Judith Jones talks about how her mother hated garlic in onions in her memoir, asking her “Tell me, Judith, do you really like garlic?” and it reminded me of some of my elderly relatives! What is up with that?

  3. I know that this wasn’t the focus of the post, but LORD I LOVE DOWNTON ABBEY.

    Now THAT, is quality television.

  4. This looks like a really great soup – made even better by the addition of lemon. I have to try it!

  5. I saw the 26 cloves of garlic and was hooked. Then saw the additional 14. Sign me up RIGHT NOW! This looks awesome.

  6. i love how you labeled your reflection in the spoon!

    and, yes, i am certainly a garlic lover too.

  7. I bet this would be fantastic if you have a cold.

  8. Meredith- You bring up a good point. I am afraid it might be classist, as least on the part of my grandmother. I think she thought it was in poor taste (literally poor?) more than responding to the actual flavor. I should do some research here and find out…

  9. The soup looks absolutely delicious- I do love the sweet flavor of roasted garlic.

  10. Re peeling all that garlic, have you seen that magical video from Saveur about magical garlic peeling? It’s magical. Hopefully this will link to it:

  11. Roasted garlic is divine and nothing like its raw sibling. This is a sweet story about your grandma and reminds of a similar one about my father in law. He refused to eat pizza. One day we made lovely roast pumpkin and feta pizzas so I cut them into squares and called it a slice. He not only went back for seconds, he ate the leftovers at breakfast the next day!

  12. I am wondering if this is in the same hemisphere as french onion soup or if it is an entirely different experience?

  13. Same hemisphere but different continent? To start, it is a puree. It isn’t as deep and dark as french onion soup, more refined. But I think that people who love one will love the other!

  14. Wow this is most definitely my kind of soup. I am a mad keen garlic fan, eat it every day and never tire of it’s flavour. I am growing some on my new allotment too!

  15. This soup sounds awesome… roasted garlic is such a gift! Love the reflection of you in the spoon, that happens to me all of the time. I have some new (but old) brushed spoons and I have disappeared. :)

  16. Sweet Jesus I must make this!

  17. It has to be seven or eight years since i last made this soup, but i loved it, and i agree completely that leaving out the lemon means missing the whole point. Sublime with that tart Spritz!

  18. What a perfect healthful, comforting soup for this time of year. I am so enjoying reading your blog. You have this way of unearthing classic and somewhat forgotten recipes at exactly the moment I would like to be reminded of them. This soup, however, I have never made…but I can tell that it will become a well loved classic.

  19. This looks so good!

  20. Marilyn C. Fabbro says:

    January 23rd, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try this. Surprisingly easy and even more so, delicious!!! Thank you so much for sharing, it’s definately getting a plastic sleeve and a permanent place in my recipe collection.

  21. This is one of my favorite soups. I’m mostly commenting to say I love the picture of the unpeeled garlic–they look so pretty sitting there.

  22. I have long been considering making garlic soup and I haven’t done. I think it’s time. Thank you!

  23. I often think of Bates and Anna as I cook or bake!

  24. Haha, this is too cute! Love the Downton & vamp mentions. This soup sounds amazing…

  25. this is the cuuuutest post. Wonder what Bates and Anna are up to now?? Also, thank you for telling us that the lemon is not optional. I LOVE to know things like this. aaand, i definitely want to make this soup now!

  26. I don’t like garlic, but this makes me hungry for “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic”. :-)

  27. i love garlic soup! so much so that the last time i made a version of this i kept going back for more and ended up with the worst heartburn i have ever experienced. i will be trying this recipe but need to remind myself and others to take it easy and exercise some self control.

  28. Looks amazing. I’m curious about the lemon juice dash… I just need to find some time to prepare this recipe. Kind of a ritual ahah!

  29. I made this tonight and LOVED it!!

  30. Yay, Tamara! That is great, thanks for letting us know.

  31. Very funny, Louise!

  32. I just discovered your website and made this delicious recipe last night. What a treat! I agree that it can be a pleasure to slow down and enjoy the process of preparing food (i.e. peeling endless cloves of garlic), but perhaps its an activity best suited for a lazy sunday afternoon and not on a weeknight with kiddos running around. Regardless, this was a fantastic soup and I’d love to make it again for a nice dinner party. I was lucky enough to have some homemade chicken broth and I think that really brought the dish to life (as well as the lemon!). My only advice to others: don’t forget the very important step that says to COVER BAKING DISH before roasting your garlic! Fortunately my husband bought me a new garlic head. Now lets never speak of it again.

  33. I LOVE garlic. Haven’t tried this yet, but plan to very soon. Tip on the garlic peeling, lay a clove on your cutting board and place the flat of the knife on top of it, hit the flat of the knife with the palm of your hand and the peel will come off extremely easy. Depending on what you are doing with the garlic you can barely hit it just to loosen the skin, if you need it whole or want to micro-plane it, or whack it good to start breaking it down for mincing or just throwing in a pot with something to add flavor. It makes the process so quick and easy.

  34. I love garlic yet for some reason the idea of this soup scares me. Really? it’s that good? Should I make it Tim? Maybe you can just make it for me.

  35. Can I just come over to your house some day and eat this? I probably never could make it look so good.

  36. I am SO excited to try this….not only because I love garlic, but because one of the best soups I ever had was a creamy garlicky truffley type thing. This is right up my alley!

  37. ha! I was just waiting for the vampire mention …

  38. amazing, amazing, amazing. my indifferent-about-garlic sweetie even liked it. the parm and lemon take this over the top. amazing!

  39. Just made this for 4 four people. It was quite good with a nice layering of flavor. The garlic flavor is there but is subtle and has layers of the roasted sweetness and more pungent raw. You don’t necessarily have to be a garlic lover to enjoy it as the soup is very light. I was worried because it was flat when i tasted for seasoning. I just trusted to the lemon to brighten it up. Just like the recipe says it makes all the difference and really reveals the different flavors. Recipe makes just enough for an appetizer sized portion for 4 but honestly this isn’t a “meal” soup. Seemed like it took a long time to make but if I roasted the garlic in advance it would probably cut that down. Delicious with some crusty bread! Thanks for the recipe, something i’ll definitely make again

  40. Sounds scrumptous .thku.
    garlic is actually a primo antibiotic b/c our bodies dont develop resistance to it.
    ive been a bit crook lately hence looking for garlic soup recipe-this one is a doozy,thks.
    so important to strenghten immunity.
    Im a french onion soup addict so im sure i wont be dissapointed by this.
    P.s i found as well on net a white almond-garlic soup recipe. mmm.-love you foodies on net…

  41. I made this soup yesterday! I was hosting a “Midwinter Soup Frenzy” party for a dozen friends, and in addition to a curry lentil soup and a white, bean, kale and sausage soup wanted something fancy and unusual. I put out small china bowls for people to try the garlic soup. Some were intimidated, but all were won over and impressed. I was impressed by how smooth the soup was and how well the garlic mellowed out. I wonder how well it would come out with vegetable stock instead of the chicken? I felt bad for the vegetarians. Thanks!!!!!

  42. Valerie- That sounds like an awesome party! Your friends are lucky. I think the soup would be great with a vegetable stock, you should give it a try next time. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  43. oh wow this sounds fabulous. i love garlic anything too, and it sounds amazing! i might put white beans in it to add a bit of bulk!

  44. you are so funny tim. i love your writing.

  45. This recipe pairs perfectly with the video tutorial on Saveur for how to peel an entire head of garlic in ten seconds. Everyone should look it up and try it out; it’s tremendous fun. I adore this recipe and made it twice within six weeks of finding the recipe.

  46. i’m a garlic *fiend* and this looks beautiful. my ears are always perked for recipes that are easily translatable to turkish ingredients, and this one seems totally doable…guess i know what i’m making tomorrow night!

  47. Just made this with my boyfriend. It was really good! The lemon is definitely worth it. I was surprised how much the garlic mellowed out.

  48. Michelle MDL says:

    November 7th, 2014 at 8:10 am

    I love garlic so this soup was great. My next batch I will add mushrooms and heavy whipping cream for a heartyier texture.

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