Monday, April 02, 2007

Combinations 11: Roast Garlic Soup

30 March 2007

I chose the roast garlic soup for Combinations 11 because I thought it would be a tough match. And I was half right: in terms of agonising over what to drink with it, it kept both Claire at Hoults and me occupied for a good 20 minutes to half an hour. I'd done some research that suggested wines like a big shiraz or a big cab sav - but this was always in the context of garlic with something else (invariably lamb or beef). I figured a big red would totally over power what was, in essence, a very simple soup.

I already knew that Andrew, over at Spittoon, had chosen a rose, so I was keen not to go the same route. Claire dug out a food and wine matching book and that was no help (maybe the soup was a bit too left of centre), and, as she was veering towards dry, aromatic whites I was more than happy to be led towards a Pinot Blanc from Alsace (Cave de Turckheim, Turckheim reserve 2004 Pinot Blanc). Both Andy and I tend to enjoy Alsatian whites so I figured that if it clashed horribly with the soup, we could eat quickly and enjoy the wine at leisure.

The soup making was a successful exercise. As usual, I departed from the recipe and roasted two heads of garlic but only used one onion and a generous pint of stock. I roasted the garlic for about 40 minutes, drizzled in olive oil, in a 180C oven. The coarsely chopped one onion was sauteed in a generous knob of butter, before I added about 2 tbsp of plain flour and very gently cooked it. The flour received a very generous cooking, partly because I was anxious not to end up with soup that tasted of raw flour, but also because getting the roasted cloves of garlic out of their papery skins proved a little more time consuming (and sticky!) than I expected. I added in the garlic and stock and brought the mix to a simmer and let it cook for a while. Finally, I took the stab mixer to it and blitzed it.

To serve, I sprinkled over grated applewood smoked cheddar and, as there was some pancetta in the fridge, I cooked that til crispy and sprinkled that over the top too.

So ... to the wine. A beautiful gold colour, with a powerfully floral nose, with hints of stone fruit. On the palate the wine was slightly honeyed, with dried fruit (in particular apricot) flavours and a good acidic structure. It went very well with the soup. The soup was very delicate in flavour and a lovely creamy consistency (I guess thanks to the sticky roast garlic and the flour). The wine complemented the flavours of the soup, and it's slightly tart finish cleansed the palate and left you ready for the next mouthful of soup.

It was a really lovely wine though, so if the soup sounds like too much bother, you could just indulge in a glass or two as an aperitif!

As an aside, I found an interesting site, Terroir France, which looks like it provides a solid overview of French wines (styles and grapes). Although it does recommend cheeses to go with the different wines, it won't necessarily help with food matching though!

tagged with: , , ,
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!


Blogger Andrew said...

After an Italian white something from Alsace would have been my next choice - although I must admit the rose was a hit!

I wouldn't say the soup was complicated to make (far from it as I managed it) but those bloody cloves of garlic sure get sticky!

12:18 am  
Blogger Alex said...

I'm actually planning on serving this soup to some friends in a week or so so I might give a rose a try alongside the pinot blanc as a bit of a comparison.

I was surprised that garlic gets so much more sticky when it's cooked and I was also surprised (and pleased) that the soup thickens up so nicely with so few ingredients.

Mark Hix has done well!

11:39 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home