Garlic attains its apotheosis in tourin (or torrin), which, at least in our local patch of southwest France, involves two or three heads of garlic per pot of soup, sautéed with onions in duck or goose fat until brown with a bit of flour for the sake of colour (the Larousse Gastronomique call this tourin à la poulette). If a duck or goose confit is in the mix, it’s a tourin à l'aoucou.
Add chicken stock, a dollop of duck fat, quatre épices, some tomato paste and simmer for three or four hours. Serve it with slices of stale bread and grated cheese, usually Cantal; afterwards it’s tradition to ‘faire chabrot’.
In Toulouse and in the Tarn, cooks often thicken it with an egg white (tourin blanchi) and the yolk sometimes, too. It’s considered a hangover cure (all that garlic does help!), hence the nickname, tourin à l'ivrogne (drunkard’s tourin), both in Toulouse and the Gironde.
In Périgord it was long the custom of preparing tourin for newlyweds on their wedding night, which would be taken up to the nuptial bedroom. Only the soup would be laced through with pepper. The bride could get away with a discreet spoonful but the groom’s so-called friends always greatly enjoyed watching the new husband turn bright red as he finished the bowl.
In these kinder, gentler days it’s usually served early in the morning after—and without all the pepper!
Images by Marianne Lowe, Unknown early 1900s