Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sopa de Ajo - Garlic Soup

Do you get the impression I am using rather a lot of garlic lately? That would be because I am using rather a lot of garlic lately. I went and looked in the laundry room closet, and lo and behold it is almost as full of garlic as it was at the end of the summer when we harvested it and brought it in. Something had to be done, and one of the things I did was this. It looks like an awful mess, but oh, it was SO delicious. So delicious that now I`m wondering if we have enough garlic on hand after all.

This is a soup in the original sense of the word, meaning something soaked (or sopped, if you like) in liquid, that something usually being stale bread. The Spanish - from whom comes this recipe - are a very conservative bunch in many ways, and see no reason to give up a dish just because it is, quite literally, pre-medieval. When it comes to this soup, I can only approve, no matter  how I may feel about some other forms of conservatism.

And yeah, I said 3 heads of garlic. No, I don`t mean 3 cloves. I mean 3 heads. Big fat ones, too - don`t be skimpy. I used 4 cups of chicken stock and the 2 of us ate it all up as our supper. If you wanted to serve daintier portions and have this as just part of a meal for more people, add more chicken stock and make it a bit less solid; smaller slices of toast and you could omit the egg or just garnish it with a slice of hard boiled. But really, this is SO good, you will be very happy to eat as much of this as you can get into you, and nothing else.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour prep time


4 to 6 cups chicken stock
2 or 3 bay leaves
3 heads of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 or 2 small slices of bread for each serving
2 cups finely diced stale bread cubes
1 tablespoon sweet sherry
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
salt & pepper as required
an egg for each serving

Put the chicken stock and bay leaves in a pot large enough to hold them, and a bit more, and bring to a simmer. Let them simmer as you continue.

Peel the 3 heads of garlic. Trim 2 heads worth of cloves, cut them in half and remove the green central core from each, and set them aside. Finely chop the remaining garlic and set it aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the halved garlic cloves and cook them quite gently, stirring regularly, until softened and reduced in volume, and just lightly browned in spots. Remove them to bowl to cool, leaving the oil in the pan. Toast the slices of bread in the pan until golden brown on each side. Remove them and set them aside. Then, add the diced stale bread, and toast it, stirring regularly until golden brown all over. At some point in the procedure, you will almost certainly need to call upon that last tablespoon of oil to keep thing toasting rather than scorching.

When the bread cubes are toasted, add them to the chicken stock. Mash the cooled cooked garlic with a fork. Add the paprikas, and mash again, working it to be sure the paprika is well distributed throughout. Mix a little of the broth into the garlic paste, working it into a slurry, then add it all to the soup.

Gently break in the eggs, and let them poach for 4 or 5 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks still soft. Taste the broth and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Arrange the slices of toast in bowls, one bowl for each serving.

When the eggs are poached, lift them out and put one egg in each bowl. Stir the sherry, sherry vinegar, and the remaining garlic into the soup. Stir for just a minute, then ladle the soup over the toast and eggs in the bowls. Enjoy!


Samantha Bauer said...

This looks amazing. Thanks for sharing!!!

When I am not taking pictures, I am eating! Love your blog.

Samantha Bauer Photography

Ferdzy said...

Thanks, Samantha!