This column appears in both the City Eagle, and Le Moyne’s Dolphin. (Look ma, I’m syndicating myself!)
If you’re a regular reader, you might’ve heard the first part of this story. Read on to discover what happens when blenders go bad.
At a family gathering this summer, my relatives and I caught up over a hearty dinner in an Italian restaurant. We started the meal by sopping up olive oil with wedges of bread, and as one of my aunts took a bite, she made a face. She didn’t like garlic, she explained, and the oil was spiked with it. I proceeded to tell her how much I absolutely adored garlic.
“Oh, I absolutely adore garlic,” I said. “I eat it with everything.”
She chuckled, obviously tickled at the words about fly across the table. “Really? Maybe that’s why you’re still single!”
Yeah,” I shrugged and dodged her bullet, gnawing on the crust of the bread. “That, and I’m a witch.” Except I didn’t say witch.
I really do love garlic. Who knows if its pungent smell is the cause of my solo Saturday nights – all I’ll say about the matter is: if you can’t appreciate the scent of garlic seeping from my pores as you nibble my neck, then we were never meant to be, anyway.
Why am I so enamored with garlic? Well, to start, It’s earthy, comforting and warm. It’s surprisingly versatile, lending itself to so much more than marinara sauce. I’ve been known to roast it until soft and pliable, then slather it on crackers and swirl it into homemade hummus.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. A girlfriend described the addiction with great finesse: “I love to cut garlic and smell it on my fingertips days later. Despite many showers and handwashings, including doing the dishes constantly because of our lack of a dishwasher… I can still count on the scent being there. It’s a beautiful thing really.” I couldn’t have said it better.
One afternoon this January, I stared out my window, shuddering as snow swirled violently before pattering the pane. My house was chilly, the weather was miserable and I was very hungry. (Okay, no fair on that last one; I’m always hungry.) I ran through my cache of go-to recipes for something simple and hearty, something comforting and enveloping. Not feeling particularly inspired, I reached into the cabinet for a can of ready-made soup. My hand was on the can of harvest tomato when I remembered Giada. Giada deLaurentiis, the mind-bogglingly beautiful celebrity chef with inexplicably perfect hair, had recently outlined a recipe for white bean and garlic soup. The instructions were simple, and with the addition of whole cloves of garlic, it sounded like something that’d be right up my alley.
I mixed together the necessary ingredients, adding a few of my own (I have an odd inability to follow any recipe without deviating from the instructions). The last step of the recipe called for pureeing the whole thing in a blender until smooth. Easy enough, I figured, ladling half of the soup into my machine. I blended with expert precision and then, as I lifted the glass vessel from the base, something went haywire.
I hadn’t properly attached the blade to the bowl. It clattered to the floor as the contents of the blender gushed down my front, soaking my shirt, pants and socks, as well as completely coating the countertop. I let the blender drop from my hand and stood there, mouth open and eyes closed. After a few minutes, I peeked out from under my right eyelid. The soup was dripping onto the floor, and I was sopping wet. I sank to the ground to compose myself before cleaning the mess.
Utterly defeated, I sighed then stuck my finger into the belt loop of my jeans and licked off the soup that coated it. It was very garlicky, and, as follows, absolutely delicious. As I ran my index finger along the top of my thigh, collecting a stream of soup, I had to laugh. I was alone in the kitchen, coated in soup and licking my pants like a crazy person. I called to mind my aunt’s observation. Maybe, I admitted thoughtfully, it wasn’t the garlic. Maybe my disconcerting kitchen behavior was the reason I was single.
“Oh well,” I stuck my finger in my mouth. “More for me.”
Two Bean, Garlic and Basil Soup (Serves 1, quite obviously)
- 1 tbsp. lemon-infused olive oil (alternatively, you may use light olive oil)
- 1 tbsp. diced shallot
- ¾ cup drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans
- ¼ cup drained and rinsed garbanzo beans
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 4 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add oil and shallots. Cook for a few minutes, until soft. Add both varieties of beans, and stir to coat with oil. Add salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings to taste. Incorporate broth, garlic and basil and stir to fully submerge herb. Lower heat to medium/medium-low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Transfer entire mixture to blender or food processor (working in batches if you have to), and puree until smooth. Put soup back in pot and warm over gentle heat. Ladle into serving bowl and garnish with julienned basil.