Harvested from short season garlic plants, the stalks are plucked from the ground before the bulbs have matured into the papery white bulbs we're accustomed to seeing. While they look like a cross between baby leeks and fat green onions, green garlic stalks have a mildly assertive garlic flavor. Thin-skinned and delicate, green garlic might be the most versatile vegetable found at the farmers' market this early in the season. They can be used at any stage of their growth. With subtle garlic undertones, they can be eaten raw (like scallions) or cooked.
Right now, green garlic seems to be the Belle of the ball at our farmers' market. The tightly bound bunches are stacked alongside green onions, baby fennel and spring greens.
Green Garlic Soup.
Although the entire plant is edible, I did a little trimming. I peeled the outer layers from 10 tender stalks of the green garlic. After snipping the tentacled roots from the bulb ends, I sliced the white and pale green parts into rings before tossing them into a soup pot with 1/2 cup chopped onions and 6 quartered white-skinned new potatoes. I drizzled them olive oil and sauteed them over a medium flame for 5 minutes. When the onions and garlic rings turned translucent, I added fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Before the onions caramelized, I plopped 2 1/2 cups of my homemade brown chicken stock into the pot.
The moment the rich gelatinous stock hit the heat, it melted into a luscious shimmering wet puddle. I brought the stock to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, covered the pot, and let it go for 45 minutes. When the potatoes were fork tender, I ladled the soup into a blender with 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and pureed it for a few minutes before pouring the soup back into the pot and warming it over a low flame. I was tempted to add cream. Nope. I kept it simple and pure. When tiny bubbles started to pop and spit, I pulled the soup off of the heat and tossed in a handful of baby market arugula.
After filling small pasta bowls with the silken soup, I garnished it with tiny toasted sourdough croutons, fresh red bell pepper slivers, fresh arugula, and subtle swirls of creme fraiche.
Tarted up with bits of crisp croutons, sweet peppers, and bitter arugula, the soup was surprisingly light. The blended flavors of the young garlic steeped in the deeply bodied stock tasted like an airy puree of garlic-roasted chicken.