Garlic packs an incredible amount of flavour and aroma. In its raw state, garlic provides an assertive punch - just a chopped clove or two can infuse dishes like pesto and hummus with its pungent flavour. Yet garlic transforms into something more mellow and subtly sweet once introduced to heat.
When garlic is cooked, its strong edge mellows out. For pasta sauces, I'll often sauté several chopped cloves in olive oil to create a base rich with garlic's now-subdued essence. Roasting whole garlic bulbs mellows the cloves even further, bringing out garlic's inherent sweetness and depth. After being tucked into a hot oven until the cloves are completely softened, the garlic emerges with the cloves butter-soft, caramelised and almost nutty in flavour, adding a savouriness that brings incredible flavour to soups such as this.
The quantity of garlic in this soup is not a typo; you read correctly – 8 full bulbs! To finish the soup with a little texture, I finely sliced a few cloves and fried them until just golden. Along with some chopped chives, they provided an attractive garnish for the soup.
Roast Garlic Soup Recipe
Heat the oven to 170C. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a roasting tray and get it hot. Reserve 3 cloves for the garnish later, then cut the tops off the bulbs of garlic so the tips of the cloves are poking out, then add to the roasting tray along with the rosemary and roast for about 45 minutes until the garlic is completely soft and oozing out of its skins.
Meanwhile finely slice the onion and sweat in a medium pot with olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook over a medium heat for about 25 minutes until the onion is soft, sweet and slightly caramelised. Peel the potato and finely slice it. Add to the pot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Squeeze the garlic out of its skins and add the soft pulp to the pot along with the cream and brown chicken stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then pour everything into a food processor and blend until completely puréed and silky smooth. If it’s a little too thick, add a splash of chicken stock.
To garnish the soup, finely slice the 3 reserved garlic cloves with a sharp knife (or a mandolin, if you have one) and sauté in a little olive oil until they are lightly coloured. Be careful as they will taste bitter if you let them get too dark. Scatter these over the soup along with some finely chopped chives.