Soupe A L'Ail
Traditional Garlic Soup from Picardy
To 1 litre boiling water add :
80 g (3 oz) peeled garlic
350 g (12 oz) potato peeled and cut into small pieces
125 g (4 oz) chopped or grated carrots
salt & pepper to taste or 1 or 2 good stock cubes.
Simmer until all vegetables are soft, then purée the
soup, checking the seasoning and adding more liquid
Traditionally, this is served with a knob of butter or a
spoonful of cream, but it is a good, spicy,
warming soup by itself.
- with Forty Cloves of Garlic.
Yes, forty! .... but as they are left whole,
the taste is mellow rather than fierce.
There are more recipes for chicken with forty cloves
than you can shake a stick at: roast, pot roast or
casseroled; chickens whole or in pieces;
garlic peeled or not; etc.
This is my own favourite:
- one chicken, about 1.5kg (3 1/2 lb)
- 40 cloves of garlic (about 4 bulbs)
- 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
- a sliced lemon (optional)
- 150ml water or white wine
- salt and black pepper
- olive oil (use your preferred vegetable oil, mine would
be olive oil for this recipe)
- Heat your oven to 200C, 180 if using a fan oven, or gas mark 6.
- Rub olive oil on the outside of the chicken and season it well inside and out.
- Put the thyme and a few slices of lemon, if using, in the chicken's cavity.
- Break open your garlic bulbs. Take off all the outer papery skin, but leave
the inner husks on. Put about half of them in the cavity.
- Put the remaining cloves and the rest of the lemon, if using, in your
roasting tin and add the water or wine. Put the chicken on top of the garlic
- Place in the oven on the middle shelf and roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours
till it is fully cooked (when the chicken's juices run clear)
- Check halfway through cooking time: you may need to add a little more water.
(At this point when I'm roasting a chicken, I usually turn it over for a
while to make sure it's well cooked underneath and to let the juices run
into the breast, but this is purely a personal preference.)
When you take your chicken out of the oven, if you allow it to stand for 20
minutes or so (covering it with foil if you wish) you will find it easier to
Serve the garlic with the chicken. Inside the husks is a delicious purée.
My basil was a complete disaster this year; it germinated but refused to grow, clearly aware of the kind of Summer we were in for, and not prepared to make the effort! However, there is good basil available at farmers’ markets, so all is not lost.
I love both pesto and its French cousin, pistou. They can make me think it’s Summer even on a dreary, wet West Cork day.
A well-known recipe, but a must for any garlic recipe column.
2oz/50g fresh basil leaves
a large clove of garlic
1 tablespoonful pine kernels
6 tablespoonsful olive oil
1oz/25g grated Parmesan cheese
a little salt
If you have a blender, first crush your garlic then put all ingredients except the cheese into the goblet and blend till smooth.
Pour it into a bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese
If you are using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, basil and pine kernels to a paste. Gradually add the cheese and salt then very slowly add the olive oil until you have a smooth purée.
(I have successfully used a hand blender for this but I hesitate to recommend this method as I don’t want to be responsible for the demise of anyone’s hand blender.)
Use as a dip or a sauce for pasta - a little goes a long way!
Variations: using the same method, you can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts and parsley or other green herbs for the basil
Less well-known, this recipe comes from Provence and is just as delicious, but not dependent on having vast quantities of basil. It is also wonderfully garlicky!
10 large basil leaves
3 large cloves of garlic
3 ½ oz/100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 fl oz/80ml olive oil
Crush the garlic to a paste with pestle and mortar; add the basil leaves and crush to a paste again. Put the mixture into a bowl and gradually stir in the cheese with a fork, mixing it in well.
Still using a fork, stir in the olive oil very slowly so that the mixture thickens: it may separate if you add the oil too quickly.
If you want to use a blender, blend the basil, garlic and cheese first, then add the oil very slowly, keeping the blades turning.
This is wonderful as a sauce for pasta or as a dip for raw vegetables. In France it is added to a vegetable soup to make soupe au pistou and in the Nice area it is served with roast mutton.