Chef Ali’s Garlic Soup. Courtesy / Ali Waks Adams

I usually write about food and beverage events, but, of course, no gatherings are happening now. I know that many of you (like me) are cooking, baking and experimenting with food – sometimes using just what you have available in the fridge and pantry.

Sande Updegraph lives in Brunswick and is a longtime food writer. She can be reached at [email protected]

I have contacted a few local chefs for their ideas about creative cooking while sheltering in place. This week Brunswick Chef Ali Waks Adams shares Garlic Soup for Two, in her own words:

“I grew up in the ’70s. My mom was a hippie and my grandparents were immigrants — we didn’t eat many of the foods anyone thought was ‘normal.’ I’d longingly side-eye my friend’s bologna sandwiches on white bread while chewing (and chewing and chewing) my mom’s homemade whole grain loaf with Muenster cheese, lettuce and butter. At this time of year my Scooby Doo lunch box held ersatz matzo ‘sandwiches’ – which definitely could not be traded for anything at all – and a thermos of soup.

“My family was good at soup, matzo ball soup, Schav (sorrel), mushroom barley, cabbage, cold cucumber soup, borscht, hot or cold, meaty or austere. When Sande asked me to share a soup recipe made from simple ingredients I knew exactly what I’d pick: Garlic Soup. It’s comforting and squishy and made from the ends and the bits of things … and even better, it’s adaptable. You use what you have. As we come into spring and beautiful green garlic, scapes and ramps pop up, this simple soup becomes a seemingly indulgent showcase for those first pungent alliums.

“This soup is kind of like a stone soup. You can add a lot to it. If you are lucky enough to have a bit of prosciutto ends or some speck (smoked pork belly) or even just a bit of salt pork, ham or bacon – add that to the olive oil in the beginning. If you want to stir some pesto in at the end do that. If you want to add a can of white beans, that would be amazing, too. Actually all of them together would be great. If you don’t want the eggs but have leftover chicken, add that; maybe a few ribbons of kale or spinach leaves. But first try it in its simplest form – as it is.”

Garlic Soup for Two

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to finish
Parmigiano rind (or any kind of hard cheese – even that piece of Gouda you forgot about)
Two heels or slices of bread
Flaky salt
Freshly ground pepper
Splash red wine vinegar
Sprig fresh thyme (optional)
2 eggs (optional)

Peel garlic cloves, reserve one small clove for the bread.

Heat olive oil in a small pot over low heat and add garlic cloves. Very gently warm them until they soften and turn lightly browned (really watch this because if they burn, the cloves have to be thrown away and the recipe has to be started again). Add thyme and cheese rind, stir to warm slightly. Add stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Toast bread heels till crunchy and run raw garlic clove over bread. Place bread in soup bowl. If grated cheese is on hand, throw in a desired amount.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic cloves, thyme and cheese end from the stock and divide among bowls. If adding eggs, crack one into a measuring cup and slowly add to broth. Stir gently and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the egg and place on the toast in the soup bowl. Repeat with the other egg. Keep the stock at a simmer and pour it over the egg and/or toast. Drizzle with olive oil. Splash about ½ teaspoon of red wine vinegar on top. Add more salt and pepper to taste – a few red pepper flakes wouldn’t hurt.

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