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Once I was making soup with a friend and the recipe called for a few cloves of garlic. She was ready to throw the garlic cloves into the soup whole without chopping them up first. I would've thought that it would make more sense to chop it up first and she had never heard of doing that.

Does anyone ever cook with whole garlic cloves? My friend's parents are from Spain so perhaps in other countries this is a common way to include garlic in a recipe.

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How long was the soup cooked for? –  Jefromi Jul 19 '12 at 3:31
    
Not very long. Maybe 20 minutes. –  vulpix Jul 19 '12 at 4:17
    
There are certainly some Spanish recipes in which the garlic is included in whole, unpeeled cloves. –  Peter Taylor Jul 19 '12 at 6:21
    
related : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/367/… –  Joe Jul 20 '12 at 19:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From my experience and what I've seen, garlic cloves are often applied to soup in un-chopped glove.

Overtime, the boiling will release the garlic's sweet to the soup without melting itself into the liquid or dissolving into tidbits that attached to the ingredients.

I have also seen people pan fry the garlic gloves to golden brown before dumping them into the water. I believe the purpose is to harden the outside of the garlic while getting more exotic flavor out of it.

Otherwise, I would chop/dice/smash garlic for dips and frying.

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Interesting! I should give her the benefit of the doubt, but I think my friend was not aware of the benefits of dropping it in whole. When I handed her a knife, she seemed confused, as if clearly had never chopped garlic before, so perhaps she was adding it to other dishes in whole form as well. Or the more likely scenario: she doesn't cook much ever! –  vulpix Jul 19 '12 at 4:42
    
But anyway, I will try adding whole garlic to soups and see how I like it! –  vulpix Jul 19 '12 at 4:42
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The less you chop a garlic clove, the less intense the flavour is. Whole garlic cloves are often used in Mediterranean cooking to introduce just a subtle hint of garlic flavour. Placing one in some warm oil for a few minutes is a good way of flavouring it, for example. There are French recipes too: Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic for example. –  ElendilTheTall Jul 19 '12 at 8:11

Garlic is best added at the time of frying chopped onions and before ginger paste in indian cooking. The confidential handed down method is by crushing it with the flat of the knife and immediately putting in the hot oil of the seasoning. Wiping off the knife by cutting an onion (to be used in the recipe) transfers the flavour to the onion and the bouquet is mmmm!

As to the number of cloves, it can be as per the given recipe, modified as per your preferred pungency level. The release of the flavour and zing by crushing is more subtle and permeating. In chopping and paste it is diminished. I trust that you will catch the difference in your tastebuds and olfactory system.

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Leaving them whole will keep them sweeter.

With garlic, the more you break down the cell walls (cut, grind, etc.) the more the spicy/sharp/hot taste will come out.

So, in general, if you want the sweet garlic taste, cut it as little as possible, if you want the spicy garlic taste, then chop or mince it.

For adding to soup, I generally just mash it a bit with the side of my knife to crack it a bit, and toss it in.

Total aside, but one of my favorite foods is a head of garlic, peeled, and baked in a small dish with olive oil, salt, and pepper - it's really sweet and goes wonderfully with some butter and french bread.

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But when you cook it thoroughly, like in a soup, there's not going to be much spicy fresh garlic flavor left. –  Jefromi Jul 31 '12 at 4:26

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