Garlic isn’t one of those things that gets the spotlight very often, and there’s no good reason for it because it seems that just about everyone enjoys it (have you ever met someone who doesn’t just love garlic bread?). I mean granted, your breath won’t be making you any friends for a while after, but you’ll feel happier for having indulged in your garlic craving, right? Whatever the case, this soup is where one my favorite supporting flavors (its probably in almost every meal I prepare ) finally gets its time in the sun: roasted garlic chicken soup.
I really enjoyed this soup. It was simple in flavor, but surprisingly interesting. You might think you have garlic nailed down, but the soup showcases it in such a way that you really get to appreciate a fuller profile of garlic than you might otherwise. There’s a combination of lightly sautéed cloves of garlic as well as slowly roasted whole heads of garlic, so you simultaneously get to enjoy the mellow, nutty flavors from the roasted garlic while also getting the somewhat pungent, sharper, high notes from less cooked garlic. Swimming in a rich chicken broth with just a dab of cream to give the soup some body, this very much hit the spot for me.
Now whether you’re the type who always makes chicken/beef/whatever stock from scratch or not, this soup is one of the times where a strongly flavored homemade stock can play a very big part in making this something special, so if you’re on the fence, I’m trying to push you over. Make it fresh this time (not sure how? Its really easy!). You’ll be very glad you did.
Also worth mentioning: this soup can function either as a starter or a main course. Since I’m not the type who typically goes to the trouble of making a starter and an entree when I’m not entertaining, I wanted this to function as a meal, so I roasted a whole chicken, shredded the meat, and added it to the soup. You could skip the chicken, throw in a mix of coarsely chopped veggies (peppers, tomatoes, avocado, etc), or just enjoy it plain. Do whatever suits you.
My inspiration for this soup came from Smitten Kitchen.
- 5 heads of garlic (not cloves, yes whole heads)
- 1 ~4 lb chicken
- handful sprigs of thyme
- few sprigs of rosemary
- knob of butter
- 1 leek
- 1 shallot
- 5 cups strongly flavored chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Optional: cayenne pepper (to taste)
- Optional: 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
Begin by roasting all that needs roasting. If you’re including chicken, get started with that. I slit the back open and half-ass spatchcocked it to speed up the cooking time a bit, coating the chicken with oil, salt, pepper, and a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, roasting in the oven until cooked totally through. I also slit the tops off of 3 heads of garlic, coated them in oil, wrapped them in tin foil, and roasted them in the oven as well for about 45 minutes.
When the chicken is done, remove the skin and shred the meat up with your hands. Set it aside for now. Save the bones and other odd bits for stock making another day.
Mince the shallot and pale part of the leek, sweating in butter over medium heat for just shy of 10 minutes. Add the whole (but peeled of paper) cloves from 2 heads of garlic and the thyme leaves (stripped from the stems) and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. Also squeeze in the roasted garlic flesh (it just pops right out of the paper) for sautéeing during this 3 minutes.
Now, pour in the stock and deglaze if necessary. Raise to a boil and simmer this for 20-30 minutes or until the garlic is fork tender. Puree this mixture with a blender (either in batches or with an immersion blender).
With a smooth mixture, finally add in the heavy cream (and shredded chicken if you’re using it) and return to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Now my wife was disappointed that this wasn’t a spicy soup (it was never my intent! Normally I have the opposite problem…). I added a bit of cayenne and chipotle kind of after the fact to make it more enjoyable for her, and I thought it added a nice touch without overpowering things, so I leave these choices up to you. Whatever the case, fill a bowl with enough broth and pieces of chicken, top with some parmesan and fresh thyme leaves, and enjoy!