Read before beginning: The ingredients are on the consertive end; adjust to your own taste, and don't be afraid to add more garlic! (I usually add about a cup of whole cloves) I would advise using the old adage "less is more" the first time you make it, but once you have an idea as to what it is like, you can better adjust according to your own taste/needs.
* 1/3 C. whole garlic cloves (This is IMPORTANT: note that you may NOT substitute mere minced garlic in a jar!)
* 1 Tbsp minced garlic
* 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
* 1 tsp fresh basil or 1/4 tsp drid basil
* 4 cans of vegetable broth (or 2 32 oz boxes of Swanson's vegetable broth)
(( I recommend low sodium))
* 1 medium onion
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1/3 C. Half-and-Half (I use fat-free)
* 1/3 C. parmesan cheese - shredded
* Creole seasoning
* Day-Old French or Italian bread
1. Add onions and some of the garlic cloves to a large soup pan with the T. of olive oil. When the onions begin to turn clear or brownish (don't over cook!), add the broth, basil, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring this to a boil.
2. When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.
3. In the meantime, make your croutons: Cube the bread, approximately 2-3 cups, and toast in the oven at 300 degrees. Remove from heat, place in a paper sack, coat with apx. 1 - 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and season with the Creole seasoning. (This is spicy- be conservative at first!). Set the croutons aside.
NOTE: THE CROUTONS CAN BE MADE IN ADVANCE
4. When the soup has simmered for the 40 minutes, add apx 1 1/2 C. of the croutons and stir in with a wire whisk until they have mostly dissolved. At this point, the whole garlic cloves should be "mushy".
5. Remove the bay leaf
6. Add the half-and-half and parmesan cheese and immediately remove the soup from heat.
7. If you have a hand-mixer, use this to blend the soup to a smooth consistency. You may also pour the soup into a blender.
8. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining croutons, parmesan, and creole seasoning.
**** the half-and-half, parmesan and bread can be omitted for a thinner, healthier broth-type soup with all the great flavor!
**** You may also use large chunks of potato if you can't find the low-sodium broth or if your seasoning gets too salty. Blending the potatoes into it instead of bread may also turn it into a thicker soup. Otherwise if you do use the potatoes, it's a great and easy way to make garlic mashed potatoes if you decide to reserve them to the side.
Any questions or comments, leave them below! :-) Otherwise..Enjoy!