Aphrodite's Rose Soup

The origins of garlic soup come from many places in the world. In Spanish cooking, “Sopa de Ajo” is a nourishing and sensual soup. “Soupe a l'ail” is from the Languedoc region of France.

Garlic is an aphrodisiac.

Garlic is mystifying and alluring, having also the reputation of stinking wonderfully or, for some, not so wonderfully. But it is one of those foods that possess healing properties, for everything from lethargy to boosting immunity.

The French make an aromatic garlic soup as a cure for the common cold.

The magic of garlic for lovers is that it can intoxicate the senses in such a marvelous way. But both lovers must also love garlic!

Scientists recently discovered that the chemical substance in garlic’s aroma is also one of the chemicals present in female sexual secretions.

Add the beautiful red onion. In Ayurvedic medicine, raw onion is a recommended tonic and medicine for menstrual disorders in females. It increases the amount of healthy sperm in males. Onions might be considered a natural aphrodisiac for centuries.

The onion has powerful properties to inspire the libido and enhance the sexual experience. Onions in the middle ages were banned in many religious convents because of its aphrodisiac powers.

Thyme has been considered an aphrodisiac since Egyptian times. A few sprigs added to this magical pot of soup will only add to the sensory delight.

I discovered this soup by reading Ruth Reichl's book, "Comfort Me With Apples" and it was originally called "La Vieille Maison Soup". There are many versions of this "French Onion/Garlic Soup" so I renamed it "Aphrodite's Rose Soup" for its aphrodisiac qualities, and the "stinking rose" of garlic!

APHRODITE’S ROSE SOUP

(serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

5 garlic bulbs

3 red onions (finely chopped)

several voluptuous dashes of olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

4 cups chicken (or mushroom) stock

2 cups white wine

few sultry splashes of sherry

1 oz. Gruyère cheese (grated) per serving

1 oz. whipping cream per serving

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 slices of garlic focaccia bread

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Peel the garlic cloves of 2 of the 5 bulbs of garlic. Chop the tops off of the other 3 garlic bulbs and set them aside. Chop the red onions fairly well, then toss the garlic cloves and red onion together in a bowl with wanton dashes of sherry and olive oil. The sherry helps the onions and garlic caramelize. If you have some good salt, like pink Himalayan and perhaps some nice peppercorns in a grinder (I mix both pink salt and peppercorns in my grinder) then grind the seasonings over the bowl of garlic and red onion, and toss the mixture together.

Once tossed, spread the garlic and onions out on a sheet pan and take the 3 halved garlic bulbs (with skins on) and face them down into the sherry & oil mixture. Scatter pats of butter all about the garlic and onions. Roast them in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until caramelized. Make sure your garlic and red onions are getting golden with the sweetness of butter, sherry, and olive oil. It should begin to smell up your kitchen with the wonderful aromas of caramelized red onions and garlic.

Place your pot on the stove, and have your thyme and broth ready, but wait to put the broth into the pot. Just set aside until we put the garlic and onion mixture into the pot.

{Put your broth on the stove in another pot to heat. Make sure your broth is hot, but don’t overboil it. Just simmer it until you are ready to add it to your garlic and onions}

Take your sheet pan of caramelized garlic and red onion out of the oven, lift the skins off the halved bulbs, and scoop it all into your pot. I like to use clay pots, as they lend an earthy taste to my soups.

Once you have put all your caramelized garlic and onion into the pot, add a little flour and some more butter (if needed) until well coated. Mash the garlic and onions with a potato ricer in the pot with the sprinkling of flour.

Saute for a few minutes on a medium flame.

Add a little white wine, and stir the mixture a bit more. Add in the hot stock, ladle it in while stirring. Add in the thyme.

Bring to a gentle simmer and continue for a half hour.

Let this soup cook slowly, allowing the rich, earthy flavor of the garlic and red onions marry together. Using a clay pot has advantages: you can place the clay pot (covered with a lid) in the oven at 350 for a few hours if you'd like.

If you are using a mushroom broth, this is essential to the flavor. I’m not saying that chicken broth isn’t a good addition, mind you. You might want to use both mushroom and chicken for this magical pot of soup.

Once the pot is really looking and smelling good, taste it. If you are happy with its flavor and sensuous odors, then turn the heat off and allow it to cool awhile.

{Meanwhile, break up the slices of garlic focaccia bread and put them into the soup mixture}

The garlic focaccia (I recommend this highly for the flavor and texture of the soup) will add and extra velvety creaminess to your soup once blended.

If you are making this soup ahead of time (about a day ahead) this will work beautifully! I love making soup a day ahead--- the time it sits in the pot allows the flavors to intensify. If so, this is a perfect moment to save your soup in the refrigerator until the next day.

(When you are saving your soup at this stage, let it cool before putting it into the fridge).

When cool, ladle the soup into a good quality blender (I love my Vitamix). Set up and extra pot for the blended soup. Blend the soup in batches, pouring the blended soup into the extra pot.

When you have all of your blended soup in the pot, get out your herbs, cream, and Gruyère cheese. Also, you can make some croutons out of the extra garlic focaccia, or serve the soup with slices of toasted focaccia.

There are a few ways you can serve this rich and sensuous soup:

To serve:

You will need serving size oven-proof bowls or casseroles.

Beat an egg into each serving and cover each with Gruyère cheese.

Bake for 10 more minutes at 350.

When ready to serve, add 1 oz. cream to each serving.

~OR~

Just blend the cream into the soup, and top it off with croutons and Gruyère cheese.

Bon Appetit!