Even though the weather here in Seattle has been sort of lackluster--typical gray days with little bursts of warm drizzle--I have nevertheless fallen in love all over again with picnicking. I wish every meal could be a picnic, even though it is much harder to get a 9 month old to eat when she isn't sitting in a chair. We picnic in parks, and on hikes and out of the trunk of the car. It's pretty much the Best. Thing. Ever.
I've also been working quite a bit in the P-patch, and last week I pulled up a few stragglers of green garlic. I had some garlic planted last season that I had trouble pulling out, and so I just left it, knowing that it would grow back next time around and make wonderful sweet tender green garlic stalks. I have a friend who has always raved about her favorite green garlic soup recipe, and how good it is with a little bit of créme fraîche and some toast, so my plan was to give her a green garlic present and hopefully get an invite to dinner in return. Alas, she injured her back this spring, and while I did give her the green garlic, she has been too laid up to have guests. I decided I could dream up my own good recipe, and try it out for myself. I even perfected the required créme. And even though it wasn't perfect picnic weather in the evening, we took it to the park and ate it on a blanket, out of real bowls, since the park is so close to our house.
I looked around for recipes for this miraculous soup and came across several, but most seemed to go back to just one, from Alice Waters. I didn't have any new potatoes, but I did have a leftover baked potato, so I took the peel off of it and put it in to give it some body. This recipe produced a soup that wasn't very, well, green. I know, I know. The "green" refers to the garlic itself. But I had pictured a green soup so at the end I decided to change that by adding a huge handful of the
Back to the picnic. I paired the soup with some zucchini fritters, tomatoes in balsamic vinegar, and a rosé that Joe and the boys brought back for me from Eastern Washington. Oh, and a handful of kalamata olives. And for dessert we had cinnamon grahams smeared with dark chocolate ganache--kind of a fireless, more indulgent s'more. Well, really, I went for a run after dinner and Joe had dessert. Then I had a chocolate protein shake made with coconut milk, which is sort of dessert like. Oh well.
Green Garlic and Baked Potato Soup
adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters
serves 4 (if you don't kill your blender making it and spill soup everywhere)
1/2 lb green garlic, white and light green parts only, in 1/2" pieces
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium sized baked russet potato, skin removed and cut into chunks
5-6 big leaves of chard, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp or so heavy cream, sour cream or créme fraîche, plus more for serving
Heat the olive oil in a small stockpot. Add the garlic and turn down heat to medium, toss in a pinch of salt. Cover and let the garlic sweat for a few minutes, until it becomes fragrant. It's OK if it browns a little. Brown bits just mean more flavor later.
Add the potato and the stock, and bring to a boil. Let simmer until the garlic is very tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the chard. Cover and let it sit just a few minutes, maybe 5, until the chard is soft but still bright green.
Process in your blender in 3 or 4 batches, or with a stick blender if you happen to have one. Stir in your cream of choice, and serve. Don't let anybody stop you if you want to take it out for a picnic, even though soup isn't usually a picnic food. Bonus points for real bowls.