Saturday, May 03, 2008

Spring Garlic Soup with Crispy Bacon

This is a delicious way to take advantage of the delicate flavor of the spring garlic found in the farmers' markets this month. You can make it without the bacon and with veggie stock instead of chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

You'll need:

2 bunches spring garlic, sliced (about 2c)
3 shallots, sliced
4 thick-cut slices of bacon, sliced into 1/2" pieces
8c chicken broth (low sodium)
1/2c white wine or vermouth
1 large yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
(optional: parmesan rind or a piece of irrevocably hardened parmesan)
chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
lime for garnish, optional

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, render bacon slowly over medium heat, pouring out the fat as it pools. When bacon starts to foam, remove and drain on a paper towel. You should have very crispy bacon bits. Set aside.

(Vegetarian version: Heat 1T oil in a heavy-bottomed pot.)

Pour out any remaining fat and wipe any burned bits with a paper towel. Add shallots, spring garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, over medium heat about 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.

Deglaze with wine and add chicken broth, scraping to incorporate fond. Add potatoes, bay leaves, and parmesan rind if using. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1/2 an hour, or until garlic and potatoes are tender.

Remove parmesan and bay leaves. Puree soup with a hand blender, if you want (or just smash the potatoes with a wooden spoon). If you puree, leave a few green garlic bits for contrast.

Return pureed soup to heat. Taste & adjust with salt & pepper.

Serve with bacon bits and cilantro or parsley
and a squeeze of lime.

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