Episode 120: Souper Soups For Supper 
Recipe: Garlic Soup
There are almost endless possibilities for variation here. Potatoes are my favorite thickening agent for garlic soup, but it can also be thickened with a roux of flour and butter or with bread, the traditional choice in the South of France, where this dish is a specialty. Onions and scallions can be used instead of leeks, although the soup won’t have the same subtle taste. If you use the leeks, include most of the green leaves.
Poultry or meat stock gives the soup more body and flavor, although it’s good made with water. I have purposely kept the soup simple, but for a party, you could enrich it by adding a cup of light cream at the last minute.
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium leeks, trimmed (leaving most of the green), split, washed, and sliced
12–15 garlic cloves
7 cups homemade chicken stock (see recipe below) or low-salt canned chicken broth
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) firm-textured white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy pot. When it is hot, add the leeks and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the stock, potatoes, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and boil gently for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. When it is hot, add the bread cubes and sauté, stirring almost continuously, until they are evenly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
When the soup is cooked, push it through a food mill. Stir the butter into the hot soup and serve with the croutons.
Makes 3 quarts
It takes very little work to make your own stock; mostly it is a matter of being at home for the several hours it takes to cook. A flavorful money saver that is practically fat- and salt-free, homemade stock can be frozen in small quantities and used as needed.
Chicken backs and necks are available at most supermarkets. If you don’t see them, ask the butcher to set aside some for you. I also make stock from the bones of roasted chicken or turkey.
4 pounds chicken bones (necks, backs, wings, etc.), skinless or with as little skin as possible
6 quarts cold water
1 large onion (about 8 ounces), quartered
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
12 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
Combine the bones and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 30 minutes. Most of the fat and impurities will rise to the surface; skim off as much of them as you can and discard them.
Add the onion, herbes de Provence, cloves, bay leaves, and soy sauce, if using, return to a boil, and boil gently for 2 1/2 hours. Strain the stock through a fine strainer or a colander lined with dampened paper towels. Allow to cool.
Remove the surface fat and refrigerate the stock for up to 5 days, or pour into containers and freeze.
Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.