Garlic isn’t an ingredient that people normally associate with soup. It’s a featured ingredient in this Spanish specialty that’s almost puritan in its simplicity.
Sopa de ajo — Garlic soup with fried bread and a poached farm egg
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As I’ve posted elsewhere, at it’s simplest, sopa de ajo is just garlic, bread, egg and water. Now, there are other variations that you can use to expand your horizons when making this dish. For example, you can substitute vegetable stock or chicken stock instead of water. Some people like to deglaze with white wine after the garlic is sautéed in olive oil, before adding any liquid. Still others add ham, sherry, cayenne pepper or crumbled stale Italian bread.
When you make this dish, make the basic version first so you can get a sense of what it tastes like. Afterwards, you can experiment however you like.
15 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
good quality olive oil (NOT extra-virgin — you want regular olive oil instead)
2 cups water
2 eggs, brought to room temperature
1 stale baguette, cut into wedges
kosher salt, to taste
a small pinch of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) — optional
chopped parsley, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add baguette slices to the pan. Fry bread until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Lift out with tongs and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot or soup pot over medium-low heat. When oil is heated through, add garlic cloves to the pot and sauté until cloves begin to color. Watch carefully. DO NOT let cloves burn (or you may need to start over). Stir in pimentón if using. Add water to the pot. Adjust heat to low. Stir.
Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Drop in eggs. Eggs will poach in the liquid as the soup finishes cooking. Lift eggs out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Taste for salt if necessary.
To plate, arrange baguette slices in a shallow soup bowl. Place a poached egg in the center. Ladle broth against the sides of the soup bowl. Scatter with chopped parsley, then serve at once.
Serves 4 as a first course or 2 as a light supper. Great with sherry or a Basque white such as Txakoli.
Time: About 30 minutes, including prep. Be sure to fry the baguette first before making the soup.