12 January 2010

A Veritable Romance

I consider myself a fairly accomplished gal.  I have a college degree, can speak a foreign language, I'm madly in love with a handsome gardener, and in eighth grade I won the History Bee.  These are all pretty awesome things, yes?  I know, there are miles and miles of potential achievements ahead of me in this life, but I generally feel satisfied with the woman I have become.

Recently, however, I have been expanding my horizons.  No more same ol' dishes that have been tried and true.  I want new experiences, new tastes, new players in my culinary endeavors.  I feel like starring in my own post-modern French film, but instead of exploring sexuality, I want to explore soup.  And, oh mama, have I ever.

My love affair would not be a success without a third-party; instead, I am making this romance a veritable ménage à trois.  I refuse to stop at a spicy and saucy garlic broth freckled with croutons... give me more!  The perfect solution to my lusty privation on these cold winter days has revealed itself in nothing other than the perfectly poised and delightfully gushy poached egg.

You won't find me going into raptures over egg yolks all that often, and I admit that the combination of an egg and garlic soup can be a bit off-putting.  But no, it was delightful.  And the accomplishment of poaching an egg on my first try, after hearing for years the horrors of an attempt gone wrong, stacks up to any of the aforementioned exploits.  Lately, you'll find me in the kitchen, thinking up any excuse to poach eggs, whether in a bowl of soup or smothered in a homemade hollandaise sauce.  I'm always up for experimentation.

Garlic Soup with a Poached Egg
From Love Soup by Anna Thomas
One serving:

Olive Oil                                    sea salt
4 cloves garlic                            couple thick slices of day-old bread
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika                1 egg
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper              
2 cups vegetable broth

It's best to have all ingredients ready before you start cooking.  Peel the garlic and slice into thin pieces, make sure the broth is hot, and have your croutons prepared (recipe to follow).  Heat the oil in a small soup pot.  Sauté the sliced garlic over medium heat until it just starts to color.  Remove from heat and stir in the paprika and cayenne pepper, then add the hot broth.  Return the pot to the heat, and let it simmer gently, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes.  Taste the broth, and add a dash of sea salt if desired.

Add the croutons and simmer for 2 more minutes until the bread softens.  Break an egg, and lower it gently into the soup, making sure it is fully submerged.  If not, ladle a bit of broth on top of the egg to cook it properly.  Simmer until the egg white looks fully cooked, or is opaque in color, about 3 minutes.  Pour the soup into your bowl, and enjoy!

For the croutons:

Cube a few slices of day old bread, sourdough or other, and brush with a bit of oil.  Sprinkle salt and garlic powder, or whatever spices compel you, over the top, and broil for a few minutes until brown and delicious looking.

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