Published March 1, 2007.
A bowl of garlic-potato soup sounds appealing, but not if the assertive garlic overwhelms the mild-mannered potatoes. What are the secrets to this simple peasant dish?
We wanted a soup with discernible and well-balanced garlic and potato flavors along with an agreeable (not-too-thick/not-too-thin) consistency.
Choosing the right potato was our first step; we liked soups made with peeled russets for the way they broke down and thickened the broth, but we found that adding some Red Bliss potatoes was necessary to ramp up the potato flavor. The key to garlic balance proved to be not quantity but cooking technique. We needed two methods, combining sautéed minced garlic with whole poached garlic heads. We wanted a country-style consistency, so we decided on a potage (a soup that is partly chunky and partly smooth); we pureed only a portion of the soup, leaving some chunks untouched. The proper vegetal element came from leeks, cream was the right dairy component, and the best herbs were bay leaves and fresh thyme. Finally, we topped it all off with garlic chips fried in oil, which added a toasty, pleasantly bitter flavor.