Green Garlic Soup (Berlin, April 7, 2012)

The upcoming few weeks are some of the most exciting for cooking. The artichokes and strawberries have been looking better and better at the markets here in Berlin, and today I saw my first bunch of rhubarb at Lidl as I was stocking up on half-and-half, bread, and jam before the city shut down for Easter Sunday and Monday. Soon there will be nice radishes and I’m hoping I’ll even manage to find some [ lovage ].

Another spring item that has been making frequent appearances around here lately is green garlic. Green garlic is simply garlic harvested young when its bulb has not fully developed. It’s much milder in flavor than mature garlic and can be chopped up and simmered or roasted. It looks and tastes a bit like a leek, actually, but less oniony and with a hint of garlic flavor. Given these characteristics, it is very good in soups.

Many green garlic soup recipes that I’ve come across are pureed, but I’ve been coarsely chopping the stuff and simmering it with other root vegetables, noodles and good chicken broth until soft. I’ve been very pleased with the resulting soup. This is kind of like a stripped down version of chicken soup without the expense and fuss of cooking a chicken and I can imagine it being really good for a cold, or just a cold day like the ones that we have been experiencing in Berlin (today, April 7th, it snowed).

The recipe below is the basic version – green garlic, carrots, broth and a starch, but you can experiment with other ingredients easily. I had some leftover pork shoulder – just a few chunks – so I threw them in. You could do the same with a chicken breast, but it’s also fine without either. You could also add your favorite root vegetables to the mix- I can imagine chunks of turnip, potato or kohlrabi being great. I think that the carrots are essential for flavor and color, as well as a good chicken broth. To minimize costs, I try to use water when making soup, letting the onion, garlic and other aromatics do the flavoring, but this one really needs a flavorful base since it’s so light otherwise.  For the starch, I used tiny, shell-shaped “Suppennudeln,” which were perfect (see pic below). If you can’t find these, another small pasta would work just fine.

Green garlic soup with carrots and noodles

Ingredients

1 large yellow onion

1 bunch green garlic (4-5 stems)

1 bunch carrots (around 5)

3/4 cup soup noodles, uncooked

5-6 cups chicken broth

Salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Directions

First prepare the vegetables. Mince the onion finely and chop the green garlic in rings about half-way up the stem until the dark-green part. Save these green ends if you like for making stocks. Peel and slice the carrots into ovals.

In a medium-sized pot, heat 2 tbs of olive oil. Sauté the minced onions until translucent and then add the green garlic rings. Stir to coat and sauté until fragrant. Then add the broth and a bit of salt and a liberal amount of black pepper and bring to a slow boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes uncovered, skimming any scum from the oil that rises to the top. If you have any scraps of chicken or pork, now would be the time to add them. After simmering for 15-20 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings appropriately. If the broth is too rich, you can add a bit of water.

10 minutes before serving, add the noodles and the chopped carrots (I like both of these to still be firm, but if you like them softer you can add them a bit earlier). Cook until the pasta is done and serve immediately with extra black pepper.

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