In northern France, every family has their own version of garlic soup. Handed down through the generations, the recipe is one that is often made when someone in the family has a cold or flu.
When I got the dreaded lurgy (as we British call anything catching that resembles flu), my neighbour Constance made me a bowl of garlic soup made to her grandma Blandine’s recipe. I can’t promise you that it made me well though I did recover shortly after consuming it. If you breathe out hard after a few spoons of this soup, I swear you can almost see your breath in front of your face, smoking and filled with garlic vapour. I think a bowl of it would defeat a legion of vampires.
It is delicious, nourishing and according to some scientists, those French grandmas who insisted that this was the best cure for the common cold may have been on the right path. Garlic has antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Here’s how to make Grandma’s garlic soup
2 bulbs of garlic (yes bulbs not cloves) (this works really well with smoked garlic too)
1 leek (white part only)
1.5 litre chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Peel and chop onion, leek and potatoes (small cubes). Peel the garlic and crush. I’ll be honest, Constance says she sometimes uses 3 bulbs of garlic – I prefer it with two. But if you are a garlic fan, then fill your boots!
Melt some butter and olive oil in a pan and lightly brown the garlic, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the chicken stock and simmer for 25 minutes. You might like to add a little more stock if it’s too thick for your taste. Take the pan off the heat and whisk (or blend in a mixer).
Return to the pan, stir in a drop of liquid cream, season and serve hot.
It’s traditional to serve it with croutons, or a slice of baguette, lightly fried in oil or butter.
Constance likes to grate a little cheese on top of the bread for added comfort. And she sometimes puts a little greenery on top, usually parsley or fresh thyme leaves.