One of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of green garlic, but the window is short — in the Bay Area it usually arrives in April and disappears near the end of July. Green garlic is young garlic, resembling a large scallion with a white bulb at the end and lovely green and eggplant-hued stems leading up to bright green leaves. While the garlic smell is strong, the flavor is sweet and mild, a bit like a garlicky leek.
You can find green garlic at many farmers’ markets as well as at some upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods. You can also grow it yourself fairly easily by breaking up heads of mature garlic and planting the cloves. When the tender shoots become bright green leaves and are about a foot tall, pull them from the ground.
My grandfather grew green garlic in his garden, and during the summer he would make a simple, rustic soup with crostini and a poached egg. I also like to make cream of green garlic soup or green garlic and potato soup, both of which are easy to make using my grandfather’s recipe as a base.
GRANDPA LORENZO’S GREEN GARLIC SOUP WITH POACHED EGG AND CROSTINI
- 1 pound green garlic (about two bunches)
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
- 4 pastured eggs (you can find them at better markets, and they’re worth the extra money)
- 4 baguette slices for crostini (about ½-inch thick)
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Trim tough outer leaves and cut tops and ends off garlic stalks (as you would a leek). Using a sharp paring knife, slice through the middle of each stalk and wash thoroughly to remove grit and dirt. Chop green garlic and yellow onion into even-sized chunks.
Add olive oil to a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven and warm over medium heat. Add green garlic and onions and sauté until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the stock and simmer 10 more minutes. Using an emersion blender, purée the mixture until fairly smooth.
Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Brush baguette slices with olive oil and place in skillet oiled side down. Grill until crisp and golden brown (about 5 minutes), turning once. While the crostini are toasting, crack each egg into a ramekin and gently slide one at a time into the simmering soup. Cook for exactly four minutes. Place one crostini at the bottom of each bowl and ladle over soup and one egg. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley and cracked pepper.
To make cream of green garlic soup: Add ¼ cup heavy cream after puréeing; stir until soup thickens (you can also add ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano); skip egg and crostini steps. To make potato version: peel three medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes. Cut into even-sized chunks and add with garlic and onions. (Optional: once puréed, add ¼ cup heavy cream and ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.) Skip egg and crostini steps.