How to Make It
Tie the thyme sprigs and bay leaf together with a piece of string. In a heavy saucepan, combine the herbs with the stock, garlic, olive oil, sugar and saffron. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the garlic is soft, about 35 minutes. Discard the herbs. Transfer the garlic to a plate and let cool.
Peel the garlic and add the cloves to a blender with 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice as necessary to sharpen the flavor.
In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain well.
Bring the soup to a simmer and stir in the cream. Add the ham and pasta and ladle into bowls. Garnish with the cheese and serve at once.