Green garlic, in farmers markets right now, teams with leeks, potatoes, butter and half & half to create a cool, creamy, delicately garlicky first course. Recipe (with substitutions) below.
When it comes to large, hardworking families with big personalities, Allium outdoes even the Baldwin brothers. More savory recipes than not put at least one of member of the Allium family to work—onions (yellow, Bermuda, pearl, etcetera), leeks, scallions, chives, garlic, shallots… And then there are the seasonal workers—ramps, scapes and the star of last weekend’s Logan Square Farmers Market, green garlic.
Green garlic is just what the name implies—garlic picked early, before the bulbs have formed into cloves. Originally the byproduct of farmers thinning their garlic crops, green garlic has come into its own as a seasonal treat found almost exclusively at farmers markets and roadside stands. They look like overgrown scallions and have a more delicate taste than mature garlic. With Midwest temperatures suddenly in the 90s, that mild garlicky flavor was perfect for this chilled seasonal soup.
Green Garlic Vichyssoise is a cool, creamy, light first course with a subtle, satisfyingly garlicky finish. The chopped parsley garnish provides a nice fresh balance to the garlic.
Green Garlic Vichyssoise
Serves 4 as a first course
1 cup chopped green garlic, white and pale green parts—6 to 8 stalks
1 cup sliced leeks, white and pale green parts—about 1 leek
2 cups peeled, large-diced potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3/4 cup half & half or cream
chopped parsley for garnish
Prepare the green garlic and leek. Slice off the root base of the green garlic and peel away any tough outer parts of the stalks. Rinse carefully under cold running water. Slice the white and pale green parts and roughly chop. Trim the root portion from the leek and slice off the dark green leafy top. Slice the remaining white and pale green section of the leek lengthwise and carefully rinse, fanning layers under cold running water to wash away any grit trapped inside. Then slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
Cook the soup. Melt butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium flame. Add the green garlic and leek, stirring to coat with butter and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to soften slightly, stirring frequently to avoid browning. Add potatoes and stir to coat with butter. Cook for about a minute, then add broth. Add just enough water to cover potatoes—I added 1-1/2 cups. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 20 minutes. Cool the soup briefly and then refrigerate until completely chilled. You can prepare it up to this point a day a head—in fact, letting it rest in the fridge overnight will bring out the green garlic’s flavor.
Finish the soup. Working in batches, purée the soup. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the half & half and adjust the seasoning with salt. If the vichyssoise is too thick, stir in a little water, a tablespoon at a time. Don’t overdo the water—you want this soup thick and creamy. Ladle into individual bowls and top with chopped parsley. Serve.
Substitutions. If you can’t find green garlic, use 2 cups of leeks and add 3 cloves of chopped garlic. And if you want a vegetarian version of this soup, use a good quality vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.
Leftovers. If you’re only going to use part of the soup in a sitting, only add part of the half & half to the portion you’re serving. It will help keep the flavors fresher and creamier when you serve the second portion.
More green garlic. Looking for other ways to use this delightful onion family member’s seasonal bounty? Try Pan-grilled Crostini with Green Garlic and Chevre, Marion’s Stir-Fried Chicken, Asparagus, Green Garlic and Tomatoes, or Linguine with Green Garlic and Shrimp.
More vichyssoise. In the mood for more cold soups? Try this nicely peppery Watercress Vichyssoise or Marion’s delicious Sweet Potato Vichyssoise, a family Thanksgiving tradition that frankly is a treat any time.