Garlic Soup

Otherwise known as česnečka, this soup is known to cure nearly anything – a hangover, a cold, you name it. I tried it at a pub in Prague about 3 years ago and fell in love.

Any time I feel a bit of a cold coming on, I try to look for a natural remedy to help out with this. Garlic has tons of health benefits and has been used medicinally for centuries.

Trying Garlic Soup in Prague:

The first time I tried this garlic soup in Prague was at the coolest, oldest little pub called U Slovanské Lipy. My husband and I had just arrived to the city; we were feeling a bit jet lagged, definitely a bit cold, and we were craving a hot soup and a cold pint. This pub did NOT disappoint! As soon as we walked in we got the sense that we were in someone’s cozy home. We sat at an old wooden table and the server brought us over an absolutely massive pint of delicious beer. When the garlic soup came out I knew I was in love. It was so hearty, so comforting, it warmed me right up, and there was such an incredible flavour and texture to it. I KNEW I needed to recreate this as soon as I got home.

raw garlic cloves

Key Health Benefits of Garlic:

  • Boosts the Immune System: Garlic has natural immune-boosting properties due to its high content of antioxidants, particularly allicin. These antioxidants help to strengthen the immune system and may reduce the risk of common illnesses like the flu and colds.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Garlic contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects. Regular consumption of garlic may help reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Detoxification: Garlic can aid in the body’s natural detoxification process by supporting the function of the liver, which helps eliminate toxins from the body.

History of Garlic Soup:

Garlic soup, otherwise known as “Ceznecka” or “česnečka” is a traditional Czech soup originating from the Czech Republic, particularly associated with the city of Prague. This soup is a super flavourful and hearty dish that is usually served as a starter or appetizer in Czech cuisine. It tends to be popular in the colder months, however I enjoy making this soup any time I feel a cold coming on or I just want to cozy up.

prep ingredients: onions, garlic, potato, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and marjoram.

Prep for Garlic Soup:

Preparation for the garlic soup is simple in that there are very few ingredients. The most time consuming part of the recipe is definitely slicing the garlic. Here are the other ingredients that are needed:

  • Garlic: use at least 1-2 bulbs of garlic! Slice thinly
  • Onion: the onion is chopped – option to caramelize the onions for more depth of flavour
  • Potato: the potato is diced and this makes the soup more substantial
  • Marjoram: the marjoram is an aromatic herb that belongs to the mint family! It includes notes of citrus, pine and also has a hint of sweetness and helps balance the flavour of the garlic
  • Caraway Seeds: newest suggestion from my Czech followers! This is a game changer spice – highly recommend using!
  • White wine: I don’t believe that white wine is traditional in Czech garlic soup, however I love using it to deglaze the pot, and I find it adds an ever so slight acidity and balances the boldness of the garlic
  • Broth: you can use vegetable, chicken or beef broth to form the base of the soup
  • Bay Leaf/Fresh Thyme: add to the bubbling broth while it simmers to enhance flavour of the soup base
  • Bread: cubed up and toasted, the croutons are a traditional garnish to the soup
  • Cheese: while not traditional, I find that adding cheese brings it all together when it bubbles under the broiler and adds a luxuriousness to the soup
  • Parsley: optional chopped parsley to garnish at the end before serving!
sliced garlic for the garlic soup

Why slice the garlic?

Fun fact: sliced garlic tends to have a more mellow flavour compared to minced garlic! 

  • When garlic is sliced into larger pieces, there is less surface area exposed to heat. This means that the garlic compounds responsible for its strong, pungent flavor have less chance to break down and release their potent aroma and taste.
  • Minced garlic, on the other hand, has a greater surface area, which allows more of its volatile compounds to be released when heated. This can result in a more intense and pronounced garlic flavor.

What type of bread to use for Garlic Soup?

When making croutons for this garlic soup, it’s important to choose a bread that’s going to hold its shape during cooking and give a nice texture! Feel free to experiment with different bread types:

1. Rye Bread:

  • Rye bread is a popular choice for croutons in Czech garlic soup. Its dense and robust texture adds substance to the soup, and its slightly earthy flavor complements the garlic and other ingredients.

2. Baguette/French Bread:

  • Baguette or French bread can be used for a lighter and crispier crouton option. These breads have a more delicate texture and a neutral flavor, allowing the focus to remain on the flavours of the soup.

3. Sourdough Bread:

  • Sourdough bread adds a tangy and slightly sour flavour and chewy texture to the croutons.

4. Whole Grain Bread:

  • Whole grain bread has a nutty and hearty character.

5. Ciabatta:

  • Ciabatta creates croutons that are both crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

6. Traditional Czech Bread:

  • Some traditional recipes might use Czech bread varieties like “rohlik” or “chlebíček.” These breads have a dense and hearty texture that works well for croutons.

7. Gluten-Free Options:

  • If you need to accommodate dietary restrictions, you can definitely try gluten-free bread for these croutons!

Tips for the bread:

  • Using slightly stale bread is preferable, as it allows the croutons to hold their shape while becoming crispy during cooking.
  • Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes or squares. The croutons should be large enough to provide a satisfying crunch but not too big to overwhelm the soup.
garlic, onion and seasonings sautéeing over the stove for the garlic soup

How to prepare Garlic Soup:

  1. Sauté Garlic, Onions, Potato: Begin by sautéing onions, chopped potato and sliced garlic in a pot with a bit of oil and butter until it becomes fragrant. Be careful not to let it brown too much, as that can result in a bitter taste! *Option to caramelize the onions prior to adding chopped potato and garlic slices in for more depth of flavour!
  2. Add Seasonings: Here we add in salt, pepper, marjoram and caraway seeds
  3. Deglaze with Wine: Add in the white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan and get all those nice browned bits from the bottom released
  4. Add in Broth: Pour in the broth, bring up to a bubble and simmer until the potatoes are tender and fully cooked (about 20-25 minutes). Option to add in a bay leaf or fresh thyme to infuse as the soup cooks
  5. Prepare Croutons: While the soup is simmering, prepare croutons by toasting or frying bread cubes until they are golden and crispy. Croutons are a traditional and essential garnish for Czech garlic soup
  6. Add Cheese and Broil: Ladle the soup into an oven-safe bowl, top with the croutons and some cheese and then place under the broiler for just a few minutes or until the cheese gets nice and golden bubbly
  7. Garnish and Serve: Option to add some freshly chopped parsley or chives as a garnish on top, serve and enjoy!
garlic soup

Garlic Soup

Like french onion soup but better!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
  

  • Lots of garlic I used about 2 bulbs, but use however much you like
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 potato chopped
  • Olive oil + knob of butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf or fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 box of stock can add more water + bullion if you like
  • 2-3 cups bread cubed
  • Grated cheese I like using white cheddar or gouda
  • Herbs to garnish: parsley or chives

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large pot, add olive oil and butter and let melt over medium heat. Add chopped onion and caramelize slightly for about 15 minutes. This will add more depth of flavour!
  • Add the chopped potato and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, marjoram and caraway seeds.
  • Stir and let sautée for about 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and add your stock.
  • Bring to a bubble, add in fresh thyme (or a bay leaf), then reduce to low and let simmer (partially covered) for about 20 minutes.
  • Cube up your bread, hit with olive oil and salt and toast in the oven for about 10 min (or until golden).
  • Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls, top with croutons, grated cheese and under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese is melted and it’s a bit golden on top. Garnish with herbs.

Leave A Comment

  1. Dave November 26, 2023 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    I made this Czech garlic soup today to chase away any hint of a cold that I might have. So full of flavor & delicious. Thank you!

  2. Hailey B. December 19, 2023 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    This is my favorite soup. I make it every week since finding this recipe video on Instagram! I recommended it to my recipe group at work and a co-worker even made it for their Czech mother-in-law (she said it was a hit and got her some brownie points)!

    • Brita January 15, 2024 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      This made my day!

  3. Rosa February 16, 2024 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    J just want to say that I LOVE this recipe! I’ve made it around 4 times; I just made some again and had it with a grilled cheese sandwich….DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for the recipe@

    • Brita February 19, 2024 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Have never thought to pair with a grilled cheese – brilliant.

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