Are you thinking right now, "tomayto, tomahto"? You're not the only one. For years I had been buying, cooking and eating garlic flowers stir fried with prawns and tofu, scrambled with eggs or plopped into clear fish soup, innocent of the fact that in the West, this delectable vegetable was something of a delicacy.

Then, one day, I became a food blogger and I started reading about "garlic scape this" and "garlic scape that", but never, ever, was there a picture of garlic scape au naturel, always and only the finished garlic scape product; I was sooooo intrigued, that it never occured to me to Google it!

Recently, I saw a post about garlic scapes on one of the legion of food blogs that I visit and this brilliant blogger thought to include a picture of garlic scapes. I am so sorry, I can't remember who you were or which blog it was but whoever you are, I love you! If you happen to read this and you know it's you, please contact me or leave a comment, so I can properly acknowledge your brilliance!

I had originally wanted to make a creamy turnip soup but I what did I see, if not piles and piles of beautiful garlic flowers/scapes at the market, which of course made turnip just fly out of my head! This is now my favourite soup and will probably remain so for a while yet. The ham and cheese croutons below  were the big surprise - they were like magic with the soup; check out the oozing double cheese goodness!

barbie and ken manwiches

You could strain the soup after you puree it, if you have more refined tastes *ahem* but I didn't as my boys liked the soup as it was and I thought leaving it unstrained was a good (and sneaky!) way to slip some vegetable fibre in, unbeknownst to them *shhhh*

By the way, the sinuously serpentine looking vegetables you see coiled around the base of the bowl are indeed garlic scapes or flowers as we call them over here. And, the gorgeous red bowl is a very thoughtful and treasured gift from a foodie friend. Thank you Biren! I swear my Maggie Mee tastes worlds better in it ;)

Prep 20 mins      Cook 15 mins      Serves 2 - 3


200g (10 stalks) garlic flowers or garlic scapes
1 medium onion, peel and coarsely chop
500 ml (2 1/2 cups) light chicken stock
100 ml (1/2 cup) milk (regular, low fat or skimmed - I used low fat)
1 - 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (I used Noirmoutier salt, what a treat!)
Finely ground white pepper to taste


2 slices thick cut sandwich bread (white or wholemeal - I used white)
2 slices sandwich cheese (presliced for sandwiches)
1 slice thick cut shoulder or leg sandwich ham (presliced for, well, sandwiches)


Break off very short lengths of the garlic scapes, with your fingers, stripping off the fibrous skin as you go up the length of each scape. Discard the first few bits off the bottom and the flowers on top as these are usually too tough to enjoy. Wash, drain and set aside. The flowers do make a lovely garnish though, and are worth saving for this purpose.

Heat about 2 tablespoons light vegetable oil in a pot and gently cook the onion until soft and transparent, taking care that they don't colour. Add the garlic flowers/scapes and cook for another 2 minutes or until just tender but still vibrantly green.

Add the stock and milk and bring to the boil.

Prepare croutons while waiting for soup to boil. Put a slice of cheese on one of the bread slices. Top with the ham and cover with the other slice of cheese. Top with the last slice of bread. Pop into a pizza toaster and toast until golden on both sides, turning over sandwich midway through if necessary. Remove sandwich from toaster and allow to cool while you return to the soup.

When soup boils, lower heat to minimum and puree soup using an immersion blender stuck right into the pot. Make sure the blade is deeply submerged in the soup before you turn on the blender or you will get splashed with hot soup! If you don't have one, pour the soup into a heatproof blender and blend until very smooth. Be careful when blending hot liquids as they build up incredible pressure and may cause the lid to pop off the blender violently. It's best to cover the blender jar with a thickly folded cloth held in place by your hand, as you blend.

Bring soup gently back to a simmer until soup is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and immediately turn off heat and keep covered while you see to croutons.

Trim crusts off toasted sandwich and using a very sharp serrated knife, cut into 16 even cubes. Return cubes to toaster and toast again until cut sides are crisp and golden.

Divide soup amongst 2 or 3 bowls or soup plates and garnish each with desired amount of croutons. Serve immediately.