A very late happy new year, friends! I had to take an involuntary break because naturally, I got sick while I was visiting family in Germany. I blame the 10h transatlantic flight. People coughing and sneezing inside the crowded cabin, the nasty recycled air and the general stress of moving through an airport. As a matter of principle, I refuse to walk through the “naked scanner” and Every. Single. Time. I get harassed by vindictive TSA employees because… it’s what they do. Your immune system has to be in pretty good shape not to crumble while traveling internationally.
I am back in North Carolina at last, settling back into my cozy home and boy, does it feel good! We picked up the puppy from boarding on the way from the airport and we’re just having the best of times, enjoying the uncharacteristically cold weather in front of the fireplace, catching up on some reading, cooking and cuddling. One word: Bliss.
And, in case you haven’t guessed, it’s comfort food all the way. Simple comfort food, because I’m just too tired (winter blues?) to cook elaborate meals. Also, my mom spoiled us absolutely rotten by cooking us three meals a day – it’s really not that easy to go back to taking care of oneself after getting the royal treatment for over a month! Also, I’m cooking for the pup so I’m quite busy in the kitchen these days.
I wasn’t sure if the name of this soup would register correctly in people’s minds: Bohemian, as in Bohemia or Böhmen – a region in my neck of the woods (today’s Czech Republic, to be precise). Not in the hipster millennial “unconventional” sense of the word because it doesn’t get more traditional than this soup. K, with a few tweaks. Minor, though, you’ll see!
The color of this soup will much depend on your ingredients. When I tested the recipe a second time, I used a rich, dark broth as opposed to a much lighter one I had the first time around and I skipped the (vegan) sour cream, so the end result was a tad darker in color. It didn’t change the flavor, though – it’ll be the same hearty, creamy and warming soup!
If you’re lazy like myself, you may be tempted to omit some of the spices in the recipe and just hope for the best.
I listed substitutes in case you don’t have the – admittedly not so common – spices at hand (check the bulk section of your local health food market!). You may be disappointed in the lack of flavor if you end up skipping some ingredients; take my word for it!
Bohemian Style Roasted Garlic + Potato Soup
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
1 small garlic bulb
1 onion, medium size
2 celery sticks
4 oz mushrooms
1 lb potatoes
2 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried chervil (or dried parsley or tarragon)
½ teaspoon dried lovage (or dried fennel)
25oz vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
optional: ½ cup (vegan) sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Remove any loose outside layer of your garlic bulb, then cut off the top to expose each garlic clove. Drizzle with oil, set on a baking tray with parchment paper (no need to wrap in tin foil!) and roast for 30-35 minutes. Turn the bulb over half way through. Once cooked, allow to cool down, then carefully peel each clove one by one and set aside.
Peel and chop onion, slice celery sticks and mushrooms, chop potatoes into large chunks (peeling is optional).
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, add onions and celery and lightly sauté for several minutes, then add mushrooms, potatoes and continue to sauté. Finally, add spices, garlic and broth and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and purée with a handheld blender (or carefully transfer to a tabletop blender and purée in batches). Garnish with sprouts, toasted sunflower seeds, a glob of sour cream or fried potato slices (see notes).
To garnish with fried potato slices, cut a small potato into paper-thin slices and sauté with a a little bit of oil in a frying pan. Transfer to a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper and use as a soup topping.