Vegan Grandma

Friday, November 03, 2006

Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Soup and a Few Interesting Things About Garlic

Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Soup
makes 6 servings

Today was cold and windy, and it seemed like a good day for a bowl of hot soup. I got this recipe from Better Homes and Garden’s Simple Secrets to Everyday Cooking, published by Better Homes and Gardens Books, Des Moines, Iowa. It was really good. The smell of the roasting garlic made me really hungry. I love garlic.

1 pound fresh portobello mushrooms

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup chopped red or yellow sweet pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 ½ cups vegetable stock, or two 14 ½-ounce vegetable broth

1 entire head garlic (10 to 12 cloves), roasted* (see below), and mashed (about 2 tablespoons)

½ cup brown rice or pearl barley

Cut off mushroom stems and discard. Clean mushroom caps, slice thinly, and cut slices into 2-inch pieces. Set aside

In a large sauce pan cook celery and sweet pepper in hot oil over medium-high hear for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, pepper, and dried thyme (if using). If you are using fresh thyme, this will be added just before serving. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until the vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in soup stock or broth and bring to a boil. Stir in mashed, roasted garlic and brown rice or pearl barley. Return to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes or until the rice or barley is tender. If you are using fresh thyme, stir it in just before serving.

* To Roast Garlic: With a sharp knife, cut the pointed top portion from 1 medium head of garlic, exposing the individual cloves, but leaving the head intact. Place in a small baking dish, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Bake, covered, at 325 degrees F. for 45 minutes to an hour until the cloves are very soft. Set aside to cool until the garlic is cool enough to handle. Squeeze the garlic from each clove, and use in recipes, as a cracker spread, or serve the garlic bulbs whole on an appetizer platter. Add roasted garlic to sauces, soups, vegetable purees, or rice and grain dishes.

A Few Interesting Things About Garlic

Garlic is part of the allium genus and is related to the onion. Garlic is also called the stinking rose.

The edible garlic bulb is made up of sections called cloves that are encased in a parchment like membrane. A single bulb of garlic usually contains between ten and twenty individual cloves of garlic

Garlic is popular with cooks all over the world.

Egyptians worshiped garlic and placed clay models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Garlic has been so highly-prized, it has even been used as currency.

Garlic was frowned upon by the upperclass in the United States until the first quarter of the twentieth century since it was commonly used in ethnic dishes in working-class neighborhoods.
By 1940, people in the United states finally began to value garlic as an important ingredient in recipes. Today, people in the U.S. consume more than 250 million pounds of garlic annually.

Varieties of garlic which are available in the U.S. are: the white-skinned strongly flavored American garlic and Mexican and Italian garlic, which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor.

The large elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek. The elephant garlic has a mild flavor which can be disappointing to garlic lovers.

Green garlic, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves; resembling a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb.

Garlic's essential oils remain in the body long after consumption, affecting breath and even skin odor.

The smaller you cut garlic, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavor.

When garlic cloves are cooked or baked whole, the flavor mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavor. This nutty flavor makes a surprisingly nice addition to desserts, such as brownies or even ice cream.

One raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed releases more flavor than a dozen cooked whole cloves.

Garlic is available year round, but is freshest between March and August.

Choose garlic heads that are firm to the touch. Choose plump bulbs with dry skins, and with no nicks or soft cloves. Avoid garlic with dark, powdery patches under the skin. This is an indication of a common mold which will eventually spoil the flesh. Avoid soft or shriveled cloves and avoid garlic which is stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department.

Store un-peeled heads of garlic in an open container in a cool, dry place away from other foods. Dampness is the enemy of garlic, so store away from stove and sink. Do not refrigerate or freeze un-peeled garlic. Unbroken bulbs can be stored up to 8 weeks. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep 3-10 days.

Garlic can sometimes turn blue or green. There are several reasons for this. Garlic contains sulfur compounds which can react with copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound. If garlic is picked before it is fully mature and hasn't been properly dried it can turn and iridescent blue or green color when in the presence of acid. Garlic will also turn green if exposed to an temperature change or is exposed to sunlight. Greenish-blue color changes aren't harmful and your garlic is still safe to eat. (unless you see other signs of spoilage).

To preserve garlic cloves after they have been peeled, place them in a jar, cover with olive oil, put the lid on the jar, and store in refrigerator. They will keep for two weeks. When the garlic is used up, you can use the garlic-infused oil on salads, on pasta, or as a dip for bread. Garlic in oil must be refrigerated to avoid botulism.

As garlic ages, it will begin to produce green sprouts in the center of each clove. These green sprouts can be bitter, so discard them before chopping the garlic for your recipe.
If you plant the cloves and let them sprout to a height of about six inches, you can use the sprouts like chives in salads

To peel a garlic clove, place it on a cutting board on its side, and gently press down quickly with the flat side of a butcher knife. The skin should then easily peel off. If the skin clings to the clove, you have fresh garlic. As garlic ages, it shrivels inside the skin, making it easier to peel.

You can also roll the garlic on the counter, back and forth with your palm to loosen the skin.

You can microwave 1 head of garlic for 1 minute on high power, turning halfway through the cooking. Let stand until cool enough to handle. The skins should slip right off.

Garlic can be prepared by crushing, chopping, pressing, pureeing , mincing or roasting.
To prevent sticking when mincing garlic, sprinkle the garlic with salt, using about 1/8 teaspoon for 3 cloves. The salt will absorb the liquid, making the garlic less sticky. Adjust the salt in your recipe accordingly.

Cooking garlic only briefly, or adding it during the last few minutes of cooking, will help preserve the healthful compounds in garlic.

Sauteing is the most common method used for cooking garlic. It will bring out the nutty, savory flavor of the garlic.

When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn, or the flavor will become bitter. Minced garlic usually cooks in less than 1 minute. Chop the garlic fine, large pieces burn easier than small pieces. Select a pan or skillet with a heavy bottom that will provide for even heating. If sauteing garlic alone, do not add garlic to hot oil, add the oil and garlic to the pan at the same time, then heat the oil to a medium temperature. Stir the garlic often to prevent burning.

When sauteing both onions and garlic in a recipe, add the onions first. When the onions are just about done, add the garlic.

Garlic goes well with beans, beets, cabbage, , eggplant, lentils, mushrooms, pasta, potatoes, rice, spinach, tomatoes, or zucchini.

Freshly-peeled garlic has the best flavor. Use garlic powder, garlic salt, and garlic extract (juice) only as a last resort.

If needed, you can substitute 1 whole garlic clove for 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon garlic flakes, 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or ½ teaspoon garlic juice.

To make your own garlic salt, combine 3 parts salt and 1 part garlic powder.

To remove garlic odor from your hands, rub your fingers and hands over a stainless steel spoon under water. Any stainless steel surface will work. You can buy something that looks like a stainless steel bar of soap, that is made for this purpose. This also works with onions, leeks, and other vegetables in the allium family.

You can also rub your hands with lemon juice and salt, or with coffee grounds.

To remove garlic odors from your cutting board, scrub the cutting board with a paste of baking soda and water.

To get rid of garlic odor on your breath, chew parsley leaves or fennel, or drink lemon juice (you can add sweetener), or eat lemon or lime sherbet.

Science is beginning to prove the medicinal properties of garlic that our ancestors took for granted. Studies have shown garlic can suppress the growth of tumors, is a potent antioxidant, and is good for cardiovascular health.

Garlic can interfere with the operation of some medical drugs, in particular anti-coagulants. Discuss this with your doctor.

Numerous studies indicate that garlic has antibiotic properties. The antibiotic properties of garlic are a direct result of the allicin produced from raw, crushed garlic. This is destroyed by age and cooking - cooked garlic has virtually no antibiotic value.

Research indicates that eating ½ to 1 clove of raw garlic a day will reduce blood cholesterol by 9 percent.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale