Who likes garlic? Well, I do a lot, and rarely cook without it in my normal non-blog kitchen. Therefore, I was most definitely intrigued by the idea of garlic soup or Sopa de Ajo. It’s thought to stem from Castilla la Mancha or Castilla y Leon and is typically eaten as a peasant food, its magical powers used to recover from hard work and cold weather. I’m not sure that my desk job qualifies as hard work, but I think my body can use some healing for the below freezing temps Chicago’s throwing at me these days when I go outside. The ingredients for the basic soup are few: garlic, bread and water, but I’ve added a few maybe more modern twists, adding an egg and some Serrano ham for protein. Both are optional. A few articles I read actually prescribe it as an excellent hangover cure, in which case maybe I should have put this up for New Years’ Day.
There are a few different techniques you can use to incorporate the eggs and the bread. You can puree the bread (like I did here) once it gets soggy to make a more homogeneous broth, or you can just eat it the way that it dissolves. Alternatively you can not put any bread in the broth and just eat it as toasted croutons like French Onion Soup. As for the eggs, they can either be poached (like I did here), broken and spun into the hot broth like egg drop soup or finished off to bake in the oven.
To be honest, I was initially underwhelmed. Despite having pretty high expectations of a few garlic cloves, I thought the broth lacked something on its own. It wasn’t until I broke the poached egg yolk and incorporated that along with the ham that I could get on board and appreciate the flavors. Even with the improvement, I’m not sure it’s something I’d make again. You win some, you lose some. I’ve tailored the directions below for how I should have made it.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 large minced garlic cloves
- 1 head roasted garlic
- 1 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
- 1/2 cup dry Spanish white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4-6 slices stale white bread, more if you want to make croutons
- 2-3 slices Serrano ham, cut into strips
- 3 eggs
- Heat the olive oil in a deep soup pot. Add the garlic and paprika, and cook until the garlic is golden, but not burnt, about 3-4 minutes.
- Deglaze with the wine. Add the broth and the bread.
- Let simmer for about 20 minutes until the bread is soggy. With an immersion blender, puree the broth until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, get one. It's a great tool. No, I'm kidding. You can pour the hot liquid into a regular blender and that will work just fine. I am serious about how great an immersion blender is though. I don't even have a regular blender.
- Drop the eggs into the soup one at a time, gently stirring with a wooden spoon, breaking the yolk so that it sort of has a scrambled appearance. Stir in the ham.
- Season with salt and pepper as you wish.