Sunday, January 11, 2009

Castilian Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo Castellana)

This is an excellent soup we've made once or twice before. It is quite simple, and uses up any old baguettes you may happen to have lying around. It is from My Kitchen in Spain, by Janet Mendel, a cookbook I don't use nearly enough. The soup is comforting and boldly flavorful, and an example of authentic Spanish cooking. Let me know what you think of it!

Each bowl has a poached egg in it, and the bread soaks up all the delicious broth and adds a nice texture. So yummy and filling! (I just add the eggs to the soup pot as described below, then put one into each soup bowl as I'm serving).

Castilian Garlic Soup
Sopa de Ajo Castellana

Serves 4

While gazpacho is familiar everywhere, its cohort, garlic soup, is hardly known outside of Spain. Like gazpacho, garlic soup and its variations are made with bread, olive oil and garlic, which then are embellished with vegetables and other seasonings.

Although every region has its rendition of garlic soup, the Castilian one is the best known. I first tasted it at a famous old Madrid restaurant where it was the first course of a gargantuan meal that included roast suckling pig. Huge in flavor and simple to prepare, this rustic recipe may become one of your favorites.

8 ounces baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick (18 to 20 slices)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ounces ham or bacon, diced (about 1/3 cup) (optional)
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon pimenton (Spanish paprika; regular paprika can be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups broth or water
4 eggs

Toast the bread and set aside.

In a large cazuela or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ham and garlic and saute until the garlic begins to take on color, about 4 minutes. Stir in the pimenton and cumin and immediately add the broth. Add salt to taste.

Add the toasted bread to the cazuela. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

With the soup bubbling, break each egg into a saucer and slide it onto the top of the soup. Cover and let the eggs poach until the whites are set and yolks still liquid, about 4 minutes. Serve the soup from the same cazuela.

Alternative serving method: Divide the soup among four individual soup bowls. Add one egg to each, pierce the yolk with a needle, then microwave each for 2 minutes on high, or until the whites are set and yolks still liquid.


JL said...

I love this soup. It is so EASY to make and taste so good. I love it and have shared it with friends and family members over the past year. I have also stirred the chicken egg into the soup like egg drop soup and keep the baguette on the side for dipping. It's also a great soup to have when you are sick with a cold in substitute of the common chicken noodle. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. =>

Randall said...


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