A fragrant and velvety garlic soup from the Lautrec region of France perfect for warming winter weary bodies and souls!
French garlic soup, or velouté is a Lautrec-style garlic soup, a regional specialty from the town of Lautrec in southern France. It’s known for its unique use of mayonnaise as a thickener, which creates a rich and velvety texture unlike other garlic soups. Don’t click away! Mayonnaise, or the emulsion of egg and oil (I use rich olive oil) gives this light soup a little bit of body and a gorgeous silky texture. If you’ve had Greek Avgolemono Soup (which is thickened with eggs) you’ll know what this is like.
This particular rustic soup isn’t rich or thick, but is more of a brothy, nourishing soup perfect for warming up in winter or hydrating when you’re under the weather. The healthy benefits of garlic have been understood for centuries, and modern science is now studying the effects of garlic on the immune system. I’m not saying this soup will cure your cold or flu, but it can help you feel better and could possibly help shorten the duration of your suffering!
French garlic soup ingredients
- freshness is key here ~ choose plump garlic that is heavy for its size, with no loose cloves. Avoid garlic that has started to sprout. We’re going to use one full head of garlic for this soup.
- chicken stock
- homemade stock is traditional for this recipe, I used store bought.
- fresh sage
- you could substitute thyme or even tarragon.
- olive oil
A note about garlic
Garlic comes in many different varieties, and can vary quite a bit from region to region and store to store. While it’s not a perfect rule, larger cloves lean towards milder flavors compared to smaller cloves.
Pink garlic from Lautrec is known for its milder flavor and is traditional for this soup, but any variety your store carries will be fine.
Step 1. Prepping the garlic for garlic soup
- Peel garlic cloves and slice in half. Remove the embryonic shoot. These contains a higher concentration of a compound called allicin. While allicin is responsible for garlic’s characteristic pungent flavor and its health benefits, it can also contribute to a bitter taste, especially when present in significant amounts. So when you are cooking with large amounts of garlic it’s a good practice to remove them.
- Boil the cloves for a few minutes. This mellows them out a bit.
- Mash the softened cloves with the back of a fork. Try to get them completely broken down.
Step 2. The garlic broth
Add the garlic to homemade or store bought chicken broth and let it simmer to infuse the garlic flavor. I then strain the broth for a smooth texture. But you can skip this if you prefer your garlic soup to have more texture.
Step 3. The mayo!
This is where it gets interesting! Your final step is to add a homemade mayonnaise to the broth. It gives the soup a creamy appearance and mellows out the garlic flavor.
Homemade mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of oil and egg ~ it’s so easy to make with an immersion blender and enriches this garlic broth without making it heavy.
related: Homemade mayonnaise in 30 seconds
Why we love this simple garlic soup
It’s always fun to discover a new soup and this one is super unique. The broth with its velvet texture is unlike any other I’ve had, and while the flavor is subtle, it’s comforting. I feel like this is a great base for winter soup with so many variation possibilities.
Variations on French garlic soup
As written this country farmhouse soup is very simple. In effect it’s a garlic broth that you could use as a base for many different recipes.
Add a poached egg ~ float a slice of toasted baguette on the soup and top with your egg. The French will sometimes poach an egg right in their bowl of garlic soup. I’m not sure that would cook the egg enough for American standards, but it sounds wonderful!
Add shredded rotisserie chicken.
Add veggies like carrots, celery, fennel, leeks, parsnips, turnips; all veggies the French love to use in soups.
Stir in leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard just before serving for added freshness and nutrition.
Add cooked beans such as navy or cannellini beans.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese on top of your garlic soup just before serving for a rich and savory finish.
Instead of boiling the garlic, roast whole garlic cloves, mash them, and add them to the soup for a smokier flavor.
Incorporate caramelized onions for a deep, sweet undertone that complements the garlic.
Add cooked rice or orzo. I add this to each bowl individually so it doesn’t soak up the broth as it sits.
Infuse the soup with a pinch of saffron threads for a luxurious and aromatic touch.
Add a big squeeze of lemon 🙂
French Garlic Soup
- Dutch oven or stock pot
- immersion blender
- 64 ounces chicken stock
- small bunch fresh sage
- 1 large head of garlic
- Heat the chicken stock and sage in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Bring to a simmer and then simmer very gently while you prep your garlic.
- Remove the skins from the garlic cloves and slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the little embryonic shoot. These can be bitter, especially when you are using lots of garlic in a recipe, so it's best to remove them. Use the tip of a sharp knife or a toothpick to pry them out and discard.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain the cloves.
- Use the back of a fork to mash the softened garlic. Take a few minutes to get it all finely mashed. Add the mashed garlic to the stock and continue to gently simmer for 10 minutes.
- Now make the mayonnaise. Put the egg yolk, mustard, salt and oil in a small jar, just wide enough to fit your immersion blender. Note: reserve the egg white, you may need it later. Place the blender head at the bottom of the jar and blend, gently lifting the blender slightly to get all of the contents emulsified. Note: if your mayonnaise does not instantly become thick and creamy, add the egg white and blend again.
- I like to strain my soup at this point, because I want a velvety smooth texture, but this is optional. If you do strain, put the strained soup back in the pot.
- Take a ladle-ful of the hot soup and stir it into your mayonnaise to temper it. Then immediately stir the mayonnaise into the soup pot, whisking as you add it.
- Bring the soup back on the stove and bring up to temperature, but do not let it boil or you risk curdling it.
- Serve with crusty croutons, an extra drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, and fresh parsley if you like.