Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup

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I can’t believe the weather has started turning cold already. Although this has been an incredible summer the onset of fall means pulling out the sweaters again, and turning on the heater in the house and turning to meals that warm you up from the inside out. The obvious choice for dinner is soup. It is light and comforting and this soup is an absolute favorite of mine. It combines roasted garlic along with chicken in an easy to make soup.

Ingredients:
2 heads of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half or cream
thyme, for garnish(optional)

1 medium chicken breast
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
salt to taste

Method:
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To make roasted garlic:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tail of the whole head of unpeeled garlic about 1/4 inch exposing the garlic flesh, but keeping the bulb intact. Drizzle this with olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Wrap this in aluminium foil and place in the oven to cook. Roast for 30 minutes. When done, remove, let cool completely, squeeze the flesh onto a small bowl and use.

Alternatively if you buy peeled garlic(I sometimes buy a whole bag from Costco), place about 20 cloves of garlic in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes.

To cook the chicken:
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My preferred method to cook chicken for soups and salads is to poach the chicken. It yields in a moist and juicy chicken with flavor. To poach the chicken, place the 2 cups of chicken stock in a saucepan and boil along with the whole spices: cumin, coriander, pepper and bay leaves. Place a whole chicken breast in the boiling liquid, bring this to a simmer and pop a lid on the saucepan. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes, until the chicken breast is fully cooked. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Line a measuring cup with a cheesecloth or a strainer. Strain the liquid, so as to remove the spices. You can use the strained chicken stock while making the soup.(It would have reduced to just 1 cup at this point.) Alternatively you can cook the chicken in the pressure cooker for 1 whistle. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into small pieces. Set aside.

To make the soup:
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent. Add in the roasted garlic, thyme and the 3 cups of chicken stock, plus the strained poaching liquid. Bring this to a simmer. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes. Switch off the stove. Puree this using an immersion blender. Return the pureed soup to the stove and add in the shredded chicken and the half and half/cream. Let this simmer again for another 5 – 10 minutes until the flavors all meld together. Taste test the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.(The chicken stock itself will be pretty salty, so watch out!) Serve hot sprinkled with more thyme.

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Verdict: This soup is by far one of the best soups I have ever made. The roasted garlic adds a mellow sweet flavor to the soup whereas the chopped fresh garlic adds another dimension of garlicky goodness. The chicken aids in rounding off this soup to a meal by itself. Perfectly comforting for fall!

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