an anticipatory garlic soup

“the seasons are changing,” every sale email in my inbox insists. “layer up! stock up on boots and sweaters!”

i want to. believe me, i really want to. i want to put on tights and go on hayrides and i dunno, kiss some boys in a pile of leaves (although that’s a year-round affliction)…but it’s 84 degrees, and my short trip to pick up a few things from the store in a pair of jeans (mistake number one) without my car (mistake number two) very nearly resulted in death by humidity.

but inside my air-conditioned apartment, i can wear all the turtlenecks and legwarmers i want and pretend that fall is already here. so this inaugural soup is really meant for colder days, but i am eating it right now, sitting on my couch and thinking about how october is the best month.

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it really is the perfect month, by the way. the perfect temperature throughout, pretty much, not to mention it’s the birth month of your humble writer. anyway, it is a soup for not-quite-but-maybe-soon-hopefully fall. it’s my own version of the garlic + greens soup on the first mess, with some changes in process, different ingredients, etc., leading to something i find more comforting. there are potatoes and leeks, which just belong together, like eric and tami taylor, or me and chris evans. there’s spinach, and a lot of garlic, and a hint of lemon to brighten things up. there is also bread, which soaks all of it up beautifully and is, i think, very necessary to make this perfect, even if you don’t do it up in exactly the way i did.

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and a final note before we get into it: sorry i’ve become a walking cliché. i promise to not post about diy crafts, because i have the artistic capacity of a flea, and i will never share my terrible poems. just my really good ones. and i will never refer to things as ‘rustic’.

for the soup:

  • 1 medium russet potato, skinned and chopped into 1/2 in. cubes
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • one bouillon cube (or 5 cups of vegetable broth)
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil*
  • 3 cups of spinach**
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes to taste

for the bread:

  • 4 slices of rye bread
  • a couple sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 tbps olive oil

*grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and is virtually flavorless, so it’s good for sautéing, but you honestly can just use olive oil or (if your heart desires) butter
**i used spinach because it’s what i had on hand, but chard or kale or whatever greens turn you on will be just fine

preheat your oven to 350F. then forget about it, but not like actually forget about it. just turn to other things.

continue by heating the grapeseed oil in a soup pot, then add in the onions. sauté those for 5 minutes, and inhale: they should smell awesome. drop in the garlic and stir, sauté for another minute (no more, or it will start to burn, which will suck, speaking from experience).

then you want to add in the potatoes and salt and pepper to taste, and stir a few times to get everything coated in all that oil and salt and pepper. follow by immediately adding the vegetable broth, either five cups of it or one bouillon cube and five cups of water. four results in smaller servings but a more intense flavor, if you want that.

bring this to a boil and drop in the leeks. i personally like giving the leeks more time and thoroughly softening them, which is why i put them in at this point. your mileage may vary. if you want them to have a hint of crunchiness, hold off on this. then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

while this is going on, just take the bread, coat it liberally in olive oil and rosemary leaves, and maybe a little bit of salt. i put some cheese on the version shown here because i felt like it. i always want cheese. put that in the preheated oven on a baking tray for 15 minutes and then take it out immediately. this time, do not forget about it.

once you’ve simmered your soup to perfection, turn off the stove (but leave it on the burner) and promptly drop in your spinach or other greens of choice, stir it all around so it wilts, and then take it off. serve with the bread and, if you so choose, a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. that’s some rusticgood-ass soup right there, boys and girls.

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