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Like French onion soup, garlic soup’s base is the star of the show, so great stock is the key to great soup. Making your own stock takes several hours of simmering, so I recommend preparing it the day before. I promise you, it is worth it. You will use 1 quart for the soup recipe; the rest of the stock freezes beautifully in airtight containers. For a quicker (but not nearly as posh) garlic soup, substitute ready-made beef stock.
(Adapted from Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller—makes approx. 1 gallon)
5 lbs. meaty beef leg bone, cut into 3-inch sections by the butcher
2 yellow onions, 1 halved and 1 quartered
5 quarts water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 large carrot peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large leek, split lengthwise, rinsed and cut crosswise into two-inch pieces
1 sprig each fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 whole unpeeled head of garlic, cut crosswise
2 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. oil
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Add 1 Tbsp. of oil to a large roasting pan. Spread the bones in a single layer and roast, turning occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until well browned on all sides.
While bones are roasting, heat 1 tsp. of oil in a small cast iron or other heavy pan over medium heat. Place the halved onion cut sides down in the pan, and allow it to char until dark brown / black, approximately 30 minutes. Set aside.
Remove roasting pan from oven and reduce temperature to 400 degrees. With tongs, transfer bones to a large colander to drain. Skim fat from the roasting pan, then add 1 cup of water and set over medium heat to deglaze it. Transfer contents of the pan and bones to large stockpot. Add 5 quarts of water. Skim off any fat from top, add the charred onion halves and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; then reduce heat to low and simmer for five hours uncovered, skimming frequently (add water as necessary to keep the bones just barely covered).
Meanwhile, toss the quartered onion, leek, carrot, and garlic in 1 Tbsp. of oil and place them in a single layer into a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and roast for another 20 minutes or until all are nicely browned (you will only use half of the garlic head for the stock. Scoop the roasted garlic from the other half and add to butter for a wonderful spread). After the stock has simmered for 5 hours, add the caramelized vegetables plus the herbs and peppercorns. Simmer for an additional hour. Let cool slightly, then strain twice through a fine mesh strainer set over a pot. For a clear broth, do not press the contents through the strainer.
(makes 2–3 servings)
4 cups homemade beef stock
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 tsps. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 slice of toasted baguette per bowl
1/4 cup grated Gruyere per serving
1 Tbsp. flat leafed parsley, chopped
Preheat oven broiler.
Bring stock to a boil. Add garlic, tomato paste, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Whisk eggs lightly and briefly, just barely enough to break them up. Drop into soup. When the white begins to set (about 30 seconds), ladle into ovenproof bowls.
Top bowls with 1 slice of toasted baguette, mounded with grated cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is lightly browned. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. (You can skip the bread and cheese if you prefer.)