What is green garlic? Green garlic is the young garlic plant, harvested before the bulb has a chance to fully form into cloves; it is a byproduct of thinning down an existing planting of garlic. What was once thrown away or left for the farmer to eat is now celebrated in food circles, and often grown as its own crop.
Green garlic tastes stronger than a green onion, yet less pungent than mature garlic — all in all I would call it a garlicky leek. It has a beautiful taste yet less of the bite that garlic can give, and some of the stalks are streaked with a deep pinkish tone that just adds to their charm. When I cooked green garlic for this soup, I was very pleased at the gorgeous shade of green it turned as it heated, as well as how the aroma, already mellower than garlic, continued to sweeten and strengthen.
I had the opportunity to obtain my first bunch of green garlic via my CSA, and jumped at the chance. One of my goals with the weekly produce box is to force myself to experiment with vegetables I’m not familiar with. A recipe that came up several times while Googling was a Garlic Scape Soup, from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking (a cookbook that everyone and anyone in the blogosphere currently seems to be fawning over!). And although it sounded delicious, the soup involved potatoes, which I didn’t really want to bother with, having more than enough produce to take care of at home. [In addition, I later realized that scapes are not green garlic. Garlic scapes are skinnier and curlier, and also often used in Chinese cooking.]
So this version, utilizing bok choy, was born. I have to say I was initially hesitant to experiment with bok choy in this way — having only cooked it in the Chinese tradition — but the soup that resulted is truly stellar, taking advantage of green garlic’s unique properties.
Note that like many other Asian leafy vegetables, it is necessary to soak the bok choy leaves to remove additional sediment.
Although you could make this vegan (leaving out the cream and butter), the butter adds a wonderful richness of flavor and mouthfeel that makes this relatively simple soup slightly decadent. I tried bowls of soup both with and without the Greek yogurt (all in the name of taste testing, of course) and found both equally good. The yogurt-infused soup was (as expected) creamier, and I really enjoyed the additional slight tang it added. I enjoyed a big bowl for lunch with a side of Chinese
scallion green garlic pancakes (Edit: link updated).
Green Garlic and Bok Choy Cream Soup
A Don the Apron Original
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 lb green garlic (approximately six shoots)
- 6 large leaves of bok choy (note, not baby bok choy)
- 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt (optional, can be replaced with cream, or creme fraiche)
- Prepare greens: wash and finely chop green garlic, discarding tips and root, and set aside. Break apart bok choy leaves by the base, soak in a large dish to remove sediment. Rinse, and shake off excess water. Slice white stems from green leaves, dice stems to a medium-fine size. Stack leaves on top of each other and cut roughly into 3″ sections.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter together. Add chopped green garlic, allowing to cook till bright green and fragrant. Add in diced white bok choy stems, and sautee together approximately 5 minutes. At this point the garlic should smell sweeter, less raw, and delicious!
- Add 1 quart stock, raise heat, cover. Once it boils, turn heat to low and allow to simmer for ~10-15 minutes.
- Take off heat and add in bok choy leaves. Mix into soup, allow to blanch to a bright green color.
- Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until mixed — or use an immersion blender. If using a blender, only fill blender 1/3 full, and hold down the lid with a folded kitchen towel to prevent leaks of the hot liquid.
- After blending, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add yogurt and mix, if desired. Serve.