Adapted from the New York Times Recipe section May 9, 2014

This rustic soup features green garlic, a delicious seasonal specialty that comes to the market in early spring. The tender shoots are small, but left in the ground, they will grow to be full-sized heads of garlic by mid-summer. These young specimens are wonderful, with a mild but distinct garlic flavor. If you can’t find them, wild ramps make a good substitute. Otherwise, make this soup with 6 to 8 sliced cloves of regular garlic. The raw tomatillo salsa adds a welcome note of acidity and crunch. You can make it as spicy as you like by varying the amount of jalapeño.

Spicy Green Garlic Chicken Soup

For the soup

  • 4 large chicken legs (thigh and drumstick), about 3 pounds
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced, about 3 cups
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 2 bunches green garlic shoots (may substitute wild ramps or regular garlic)

For the salsa

  • 1 small white onion, finely diced, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, about 1/2 cup
  • 3 or 4 large tomatillos, husked and finely diced, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 or 2 jalapeños, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Lime wedges


Season chicken legs generously with salt and pepper. Pour olive oil into a Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken legs and brown well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Add diced yellow onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, bay leaf and clove and return chicken to pot.
Add 10 cups water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is tender, but not falling off the bone, about 1 hour. Turn off heat and skim fat from surface of broth. (May be prepared up to this point several hours ahead, or up to a day in advance, and refrigerated.)
While chicken is cooking, prepare the green garlic shoots: peel tough outer layers and roots, then rinse well. Split shoots lengthwise and chop both white and tender green parts. Set aside.
Make the tomatillo salsa: drain diced white onion and transfer to a small bowl. Add tomatillo, jalapeño, lime juice and a little salt and stir together.
Just before serving, reheat soup, add chopped green garlic to pot and simmer 5 minutes. To serve, put one chicken leg in each bowl (alternatively, remove meat from bone and shred) and ladle soup over it. Pass tomatillo salsa and lime wedges at the table.
4 servings