© David Loftus
roasted sweet garlic, bread and almond soup
I’m not quite sure where I got the inspiration for this recipe — I think it was actually when I was making bread one day and I incorporated some really sweet caramelized garlic and almonds into a focaccia. There’s a slightly Spanish feel to the main ingredients — think of it as putting a bunch of old friends together and having a good party! My mother’s initial reaction was, “My God, that’s a lot of garlic, you’ll stink!” But don’t let the amount put you off, for when garlic is roasted in its skin, the pungent flavor is replaced by a jammy sweetness, which is divine.
Roast the garlic cloves in a preheated oven at 350°F for around half an hour, or until soft to the touch. Meanwhile, take a large pot and slowly fry the white onion in 4 tablespoons of olive oil for about 10 minutes, until really soft and translucent. Add the cream and the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, awaiting your garlic. Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool slightly before squeezing out all the sweet, golden paste. Whisk this into the soup. Discard the garlic skins.
Remove the crusts from your ciabatta, rip up the bread into small pieces and throw into the soup. Add the sherry vinegar, then allow the soup to simmer for 5 more minutes. Whiz it until smooth in your food processor with your toasted almonds. Season nicely to taste and serve in big bowls sprinkled with some orange segments, torn up cilantro and mint, and drizzled generously with extra virgin olive oil.
Try this: You can eat this cold in the summer — it’s obviously going to be thick, which I think is a nice thing, but you can thin it with a little milk or stock if you want to.
And this: You may want to up the amount of sherry vinegar to give it that tang you get with a Spanish gazpacho.
Or this: There’s a similar recipe from Spain where sliced white grapes are added to the soup — this contrasts really well with the garlic, so give it a go. A handful will do. Nice when eaten both hot and cold
• 3 large bulbs of fresh garlic, broken up and skins left on
• 1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
• extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 13/4 pintschickenorvegetable stock
• 1 large loaf of ciabatta bread
• 2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
• 7oz whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted in the oven
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 oranges, peeled and segmented (see page 53)
• 1 handful of fresh cilantro, leaves picked
• 1 handful of fresh mint, leaves picked