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April 2, 2008

The Remarkable Revelry of Roasted Garlic


Who doesn’t like the implications of the word roasted? Think, for a second, of the words with which it is normally associated. Chicken, beef, vegetables . . . the mere attachment of roasted with any of them is enough to clear the stomach in anticipation of filling with good things.


Attach it to another word – garlic. It does indeed evoke the thoughts of flavor, but the results are different. And it can lead to delicious bean and vegetable soup.


Roasting garlic starts with an entire head of garlic. Peel off all of the paper-like shell. Cut off the top, perhaps a quarter-inch from the top of the cloves. You may look at the countertop and weep a little, for you have sacrificed some of one of the Earth’s little treasures – the flavor of garlic. Mourn your loss, but not for too long. The sacrifice will not be in vain.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then return to the question of how to prepare a head of garlic for roasting. Take some olive oil and drizzle it over the now exposed garlic cloves.


Wrap the entire thing in some tin foil – yes, tin foil is a regular accompaniment of roasting – and place it in the oven for about 45 minutes.


The results break down traditional thinking about roasting. Each clove, if properly cooked, will be easily mashable with a fork. Most things roasted instead become somewhat more firm than before roasting.


Each clove will still have its associated harder shell. Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl. (You could, if there is leftover garlic, squeeze it onto bread as a vampire-repelling alternative to butter) and mash it with a fork.)


Stir the mashed roasted garlic into chicken or vegetable broth while you heat it.


As it heats up, chop your vegetables to pieces big enough for soup. If this needs further explanation for you, it is perhaps time for you to leave the kitchen and never return. Yours is a hopeless case.


Which vegetables, you ask yourself? Here, we suggest a lesson from Mother Hubbard. Empty your pantry. Or, in your case, probably the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Consider also throwing in the kitchen sink.


In case this has sailed overhead, it means use anything you have – cabbage, carrots, celery, green beans, peas, corn, squash, asparagus . . . anything. Liberally flavor with herbs – rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley.


As the vegetables begin to soften, add a can of beans. As with the vegetables, anything will do.


In a different pot, boil elbow macaroni. To do this in the same pot as your vegetables and garlic broth runs the risk of soaking up too much of the broth and requiring the infusion of water that might dilute the garlicky qualities. Your neighborhood vampire might like that, but you will not.


When properly prepared, add the macaroni to the soup, ladle into bowls and enjoy with a hunk of bread – spread with butter, not garlic (especially sound advice if an afternoon date is in your future).


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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