I think most of us have heard at some point that bones are good for soup stock, but thick, dense bones also have another equally flavorful use. You see, they are usually packed with marrow. Marrow is a kind of jelly-like substance that can be scooped out of really big bones, and beef bones tend to be the easiest to procure. You can ask your butcher to cut you some 3-4 inch thick marrow bone slices, and they're usually pretty cheap since most people don't really want the bones, anyway. You drizzle the bones with some olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and roast them in the oven until cooked through. The flavor from the bones concentrates into the marrow, and when you scoop out the jelly-like substance, you really have something to behold. Earthy, savory, rich, and meaty, the taste is incredibly unique in its decadence. Some people like to simply spread it on toast and eat it, but I decided to incorporate it into a soup along with one of my other favorite roasted items, garlic.
The sweetness of the roasted garlic pairs perfectly with the intense savoriness of the roasted marrow, and with some butter, shallots, onions, thyme, cream, bone stock, and crispy sage, you have a seriously incredible soup on your hands. One that I wish was in my hands right this very moment. And you may have noticed the beautiful popping blue of the towel in this photo, along with the warm sage green one. Both were made by the lovely Maggie Pate of inks+thread, who does small-batch natural fabric dying of tea towels, napkins, scarves, and other clothing. As a supporter of artisanal business and quality craftsmanship, I highly recommend taking a little visit over to Maggie's shop to peruse her wares. Ranging in shades from the truest blue to the blushiest pink, its incredible to think that everything is dyed by hand with a homemade natural dye. She's a very talented dame, indeed.
And just another reminder that registration for my Summer 2014 Online Food Styling and Photography Course ends on May 31st, so if you'd like to join but haven't yet, please do so soon!
Roasted Garlic & Marrow Bone Soup
4 lb. marrow bones
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 large heads of garlic
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cream
salt to taste
salt to taste
Crispy Sage Leaves
vegetable oil, for frying
5 fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the marrow bones on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the sea salt. Cut the top 1/4 off the garlic heads and drizzle them with the remaining olive oil, then encase each one in tin foil. Place the marrow bones and the garlic in the oven and roast the bones for 20-25 minutes and the garlic for 35-40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, onion, and bay leaf and cook until the onions have softened and are translucent, about 20 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes.
While the onions and shallots are cooking, use a small metal spoon to scoop the jellied marrow out of the bones and set it aside. Reserve both the bones and the marrow, separately.
Once the onions have cooked sufficiently, add the vegetable broth, thyme, sage, black pepper, and the bones. Bring the heat down to low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Add the whole milk, cream, and marrow. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the papery garlic husk and into the soup. Discard the husk, and remove the bones from the soup with a slotted spoon. Discard the bones as well.
Pour the soup mixture into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Pour the soup back into the pot, bring it back up to a simmer over low heat, and taste. Add salt if needed. Set aside.
To prepare the crispy sage topping, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet until hot. Add the sage leaves and fry until crispy, about 3 seconds, then remove with a mesh spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle the leaves with the sea salt.
Distribute the soup into the serving bowls and top with the crispy sage leaves. Serve immediately.