Tomorrow we get a visit from Spain – Sebastiaan is participating in an exchange program with a school in Valencia, so there will be a Spanish boy of as yet unknown age staying with us next week and then Sebastiaan will be going to Spain in April. Last week his school informed us that even though the point of this exchange is that the kids practice English in a real life situation, it can happen that some of the kids do not speak English. Or Spanish for that matter– since some of them are Catalan and go to Catalan schools. Also, they often do not like Dutch food, expect dinner to be served at 10 PM and tend to get homesick. The last being mainly caused by the fact that they are totally unprepared for the Dutch winter.
I’m not surprised – I, too, would prefer the spicy Spanish cuisine if I had to choose and the balmy weather of Valencia to our depressingly grey and flu epidemics inducing weather.
The weather I can’t do anything about, but luckily I do have a secret weapon against flu: garlic soup.
It is my mother’s recipe, though using the word ‘recipe’ is a stretch. Especially when it comes to soup, my mother is an intuitive cook and it is hard to get any exact measurements out of her. When I ask her how to make something, the conversation goes like this:
Mom: Chop the leek.
Me: How much?
Mom: That depends on how much you have….or you could use an onion. Or just the garlic, really.
And instead of the stock, you can use water in which you boiled potatoes – you should always save water from boiling potatoes for a soup.
You see the problem? But, for all our sakes, I turned those hazy instructions into a more standardized version and now you too can make the soup anytime you feel a cold coming on. It definitely packs a punch and you can practically feel your sinuses being swept clean when you eat it. Because I love garlic as (fortunately) does my husband, we do not limit this soup to times of sickness, but as medicines go, this is a pretty tasty one. It is a great example of thrifty cooking – humble ingredients, garlic and leftover cheese and dried up bread, utterly simple to make and yet really tasty in a rustic kind of way.
Note: obviously, this amount of garlic makes for a potent potion. If you’re not certain about it, try making it with less garlic first or boil the soup a bit longer after adding the garlic.
1 small leek
1,5 liter (6 cups) vegetable stock
10 cloves of garlic
4 thin slices of sourdough bread
Grated cheddar or other (dried up, leftover) cheese – I like blue cheese here too
Slice the leek thinly, using both the white and the green part. In a medium pan, bring the stock to boil and add the leek. Let boil gently for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, crush and mince the garlic to make garlic paste. (I find using a chef’s knife for this works better than using garlic press.)
Add the garlic paste to the soup, stir and take off the heat. Put a slice of bread in each plate, top with grated cheese and pour the soup slowly over the bread.