Monday, March 21, 2016

Garlic Soup

When I try a recipe from the Times, I'm always careful to look at the comments first to see what people suggest or say. Often, this can avert all-out disaster or improve the outcome. In this case, there was an element of this recipe which I wasn't happy about and one of the comments made me even more concerned for how it would affect the outcome so I made an alteration which was likely for the worse.

In this recipe for garlic soup, the thickening agent is crust-less bread. I'm rather familiar with this style of thickening soups or stews because my sister used to be in the SCA and a lot of medieval recipes call for bread crumbs as their way of thickening. The problem I had with this was two-fold. One of the commenters said that her soup was a "gluey mess" and I also felt it was adding calories without either an interesting taste or nutrition. When another commenter mentioned using white beans instead, I felt that would be a better bet. It turns out that I was wrong. While my soup wasn't bad at all, it did suffer from some issues that could definitely have been avoided and may have been had I been faithful to the original recipe.

The main problem with my soup was that the sweet smoked paprika flavor was too strong and it was far too thin. Also, it was too oily, especially when it cooled as my soup totally separated such that cold oil congealed on the top and the pureed white beans settled onto the bottom. I'm guessing the bread would have prevented this from occurring, but I also think that the recipe simply has far more oil (1/4 cup) in it than is really necessary.

On the bright side, this soup tasted like authentic Spanish chorizo smells. If you want to drink some of that type of sausage, this is your soup. The flavors are generally good, and I think it helped in my case that I was using some really great homemade chicken stock that I had leftover from making pollo en pipian verde, but I need to tweak it and make changes to turn it into something that meets my tastes.

Though I regard this generally as a failure, I'm very happy that I tried it as I think it will form the backbone of a different soup with a flavor profile I never would have come up with had I not tried this. In the future, I hope to make a soup with a lot more diversity, less oil, and similar flavors. My general plan is to do something which includes these ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil (1/2 the original)
6 cloves of garlic (same as original)
1 small onion (diced and sauteed after the garlic is removed - not in original at all)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (a little under 1/2 the original)
4 cups chicken stock (same as original)
2 cups cooked white beans (not in original)

I haven't decided yet if I'll toss in other vegetables, but I think that it needs more thickening agents or taste modifiers. It's possible that I'll throw in a potato as well. When I try this again, I'll post an update of the modified recipe.

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