Garlic Soup from the Dutch Garlic King

It’s true, we have a garlic king in The Hague! His name is Ton Oosterhout. Together with his wife Veronica he owns a teeny weeny shop in his former bike shed, called Vers uit de Gers (Fresh from the Gers). It’s full with imported purple garlic from Cadours, France, not far from where the couple owns a second home. Quality gets noticed: they provide many upscale restaurants and food lovers with this desirable l’ail violet. And I admit, once you’ve had this purple garlic you never want any other. Ton was willing to share his recipe for the slow cooked Garlic Soup that is always available at his shop. Make it with the best garlic you can find!

Like so many good initiatives Ton and Veronica started their little shop somewhat as a joke. They imported some purple garlic strings for friends and family and kept it in a box in their little bike shed. One day the door of the shed was open when a French family passed by. They recognized l’ail violet and asked Ton if they could buy a string. In expat city The Hague the story of his French garlic spread quickly and more French people knocked on his door. He decided to remodel his shed into a delicatessen store where the purple garlic would play a leading role. He now imports 5,000 kilo of garlic a year! But he sells other regional French delicacies as well: sausages, homemade confiture, mustard, wine, and beautiful bas-armagnac.

At Vers uit de Gers Ton often lets you taste his velvety Garlic Soup. In the winter he makes it with ginger and parsnip. He adds lots of garlic cloves and for the best result he cooks it for hours over a low heat. You can also cook the soup for only about 1 hour, then let it cool, and eat it the next day. This way the flavors will also have time to develop.

Serves 4
Action Time: 20 minutes + 1-3 hours of simmering

1 bulb of garlic (about 15 garlic cloves)
2 tbs olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 onion, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped*
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
2-3 parsnips (or parsley root), peeled and cut into pieces
1 1/2 glass of white wine
1,2 liter / 9 cups good quality vegetable or chicken stock
a handful of flat leaf parsley

Extra: hand blender

*As a ginger lover I added a little more than Ton suggested, about 4 cm/1,5 inch

1. Crush the garlic with the side of a chef’s knife and peel off the skins.

2. In a large pan heat the olive oil and add the garlic, leek, onion, celery, and ginger and cook on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and parsnips, and pour in the wine.

3. Add the stock and bring to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan partially and cook for about 1 to 3 hours (see intro for my suggestion) on a low heat.

3. Puree the soup with a hand blender. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve with grilled bread.

Vers uit de Gers
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10 AM – 6 PM
Kanaalweg 36
2584 CL Den Haag
06 502 401 01

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