Do you have a food obsession? I have an addiction to dark chocolate and share another passion enjoyed by many: I adore garlic.

I love eating garlic to the point of mashing roasted cloves into baked potatoes, steamed broccoli and even scrambled eggs. This passion springs from more than a taste for garlic's flavor. Food and emotions, as we all know, can be strongly linked.

For me, garlic has that association because my grandmother fed me black pumpernickel bread slathered with sweet butter and dotted with thin slivers of raw garlic. Like many of her generation, she believed this would keep me well and cure me if I did get sick, a practice to keep in mind if you are in the throes of a summer cold.

Eventually, studying garlic's health benefits, I learned that it is anti-bacterial, and much of its power is lost in cooking. So Gran was right feeding it to me raw, although, frankly, I think that helped more by keeping people at such a distance any germs they carried did not reach me.

For social reasons, I stopped eating raw garlic in high school. By college, cooking for myself, I switched to my current preference for roasted garlic. It has a milder flavor since cooking gentles the pungent substances in this potent allium. But I confess that when sick, I go back to eating raw garlic even though I suspect that the comforting ritual of eating Grans cure is as effective as the garlic itself.

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In summer, when I reject even the thought of turning on the oven, this cold soup is another way I get a good garlic fix. Bread thickens the soup, giving it a pleasing body, the way it does in gazpacho. But instead of balancing the garlic with sharp-tasting vinegar and olive oil, as gazpacho does, caramelized onions and milk round off the edges of this soup's sauted garlic kick.

Not for the faint-hearted, this soup should be served ice cold, garnished with a sprinkling of fresh parsley to compliment its cool beige color.

Chilled Garlic and Onion Soup

Yield: Makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups cubed whole-wheat Italian bread, without crust
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 4 parsley sprigs (see note)
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Salt and ground pepper, preferably white
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Let the bread cubes stand overnight so they are stale and hard, or dry them in 300 F. oven for about 15 minutes, stirring them once or twice. Cool until the bread is hard.
  2. In a deep, heavy pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and saut until they start to color, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are deep gold, with dark brown edges, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. (To make the later removal of the herbs easier, place them in a large mesh teaball, or one made specifically for holding herbs.) Increase the heat. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add the bread and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 20 minutes to cool slightly.
  4. Remove the parsley, thyme and the bay leaf. Pure the soup in a blender until smooth. Blend in the milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Refrigeration dampens the flavor, so chilled soups need more than the usual amount of seasoning.) Chill completely, 4 to 24 hours.
  5. Before serving, adjust the seasoning. Divide the chilled soup among 4 bowls and serve garnished with the parsley.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
125 calories
6 g. total fat
2 g. saturated fat
14 g. carbohydrate
5 g. protein
2 g. dietary fiber
438 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 1/2 Bread/Starch, 1 Vegetable, 1/2 Milk


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