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The Best Recipe: Soups & Stews, Cook's Illustrated Magazine
This recipe must be served once the eggs have been added. If you want to prepare the liquid base in advance, strain the liquid as directed in step 6 and then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, reheat the liquid, take the pan off the heat, cool slightly, and then stir in the egg mixture and hot red pepper flakes. If you like, the croutons can be made in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight plastic bag.
Serves  6 TO  8

• 4 slices hearty country-style bread cut 1/2 inch thick (about 6 ounces)
• 1 medium clove garlic, peeled

• 4 medium heads garlic (about 11 ounces total), smashed*
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
• 2 cups water
• 2 Parmesan cheese rinds, each about 5 by 2 inches
• 4 sprigs fresh parsley
• 4 springs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
• 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1. FOR THE CROUTONS: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the bread is dry and crisp, about 10 minutes, turning over the bread slices halfway through the baking time. While still hot, rub the surface of the bread with the raw garlic clove. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

2. FOR THE SOUP: Bring the smashed garlic, olive oil, and 1 cup chicken stock to a simmer in a small. saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the garlic is soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon, about 35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 6 cups chicken stock, water, Parmesan rinds, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the stock is flavorful, about 30 minutes.

4. Transfer the simmered garlic mixture to the pot with the chicken stock. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the garlic flavor is infused into the stock, about 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and grated cheese in a small bowl with a fork until combined.

6. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer, pushing on the solids with a spoon to extract all the liquid. Return the stock to a clean large saucepan (off heat) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the hot red pepper flakes and the egg mixture. Add several croutons to individual bowls, ladle the soup over the croutons, and serve immediately.

The secret to garlic soup is releasing flavor from the individual cloves. Many recipes call for peeling and mincing several heads of garlic. We found we could get around this tedious step by smashing whole heads of garlic inside two 1 -gallon zipper-lock plastic bags (doubled up to prevent leaks). Use a meat pounder, a rubber mallet, or the bottom of a small skillet to smash the cloves until they are reduced to 1/4-inch-long shards or bits. Large pieces of skin should be picked out, but otherwise the entire mixture can be poached in oil. The remaining skins are removed when the broth is strained.


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