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Cold Weather Cooking: Roasted Garlic Soup From a Top Chef

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CJ Jacobson is a busy guy. When he's not slaving over the stoves over in the "Top Chef" kitchens, he can be found cooking and consulting over at the Mercantile. He's also recently done stints at This is Not a Pop-Up, and a stage at what's been deemed the world's best restaurant, Noma. Now that he's settled into his spot in Hollywood, we decided to pay him a visit. Amongst many imaginative dishes he's putting together over at the Mercantile -- think charred pork belly on roasted kale puree or chicken steak served with oft-wasted bitter radish greens hit with a bit of fish sauce -- the standout was a comforting, simple roasted garlic soup.

The flavors were so rich in roasted umami that we just couldn't stop slurping. It's a dish that would be absolutely perfect for a cold winter's night, just like the one we're about to have this evening. Instead of being thickened with eggs like Dorie Greenspan's version from Provence, he uses cream and butter to create a smooth, creamy soup, then jacks things up with little acid via the sherry vinegar.

Thankfully, Jacobson is a generous guy and decided he could share the recipe with us.

"This looks like a lot of ingredients, but the method is really simple," says Jacobson in his typical snarky humor. "Just calm down."

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He suggests consuming this soul-warming soup with friends or family or someone special while its raining outside. We can't argue with that sentiment. Here's how it's done:

Roasted Garlic Soup

Ingredients

2 cups garlic (peeled)
3 shallots sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 sprigs thyme
1 quart chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
water stock
squeeze of lemon
salt and fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Method

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Blanch the garlic for three minutes in boiling water and shock in a bowl of ice water. Remove the garlic and notice that it is a little soft and has a less harsh garlic smell. This step is important because it takes the sharp garlic flavor down a few notches and helps in the caramelization.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and sweat for 20 mins. You will notice the sugars in both of the ingredients caramelizing. This reaction is the basis behind the soup. Once nice and lightly golden, add the white wine, stock and thyme. Cook for 20 more minutes and remove from the heat. Once not crazy hot, add the soup, butter and cream to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and season with salt. Pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer to pick up any pieces your lackluster blender has left behind.

Now, taste the soup. Does it need more salt? Add salt. Does it need more acid? Add a squeeze of lemon. Does it need pepper? Add pepper. Is it too thick? Add water stock. Is it too thin? Reduce it over heat for a spell.

Once that's all taken care of, consume with crusty bread or a grilled cheese and stay warm.