recipe: sopa de ajo

recipe, sopa de ajo

One of the joys of traditional Spanish cooking is that nothing goes to waste. Soups, in particular, take basic leftovers & spruce them up with fresh ingredients. Gazpacho is the perfect summer example while sopa de ajo (garlic soup) adds warmth to the first cool days of autumn. Tasty & hearty, this filling soup is a perfect way to use extra bread & jamón we often have on hand at home.

  • 1 large baguette, cubed
  • 1/4 c olive oil for bread + extra for sautéing
  • 14 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 100 g cured ham, cubed (tacos de jamón)
  • 2-1/2 t paprika
  • 6 c chicken broth (or 1 L stock + 2 c water)
  • 1/4 c parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste

Step one: make croutons. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then slice or tear a baguette into cubes. This is a soup, so make sure they’re about soup spoon size. Place bread & any crumbs on the baking sheet, then drizzle/dab with olive oil. Bake at 180ºC for about 15 min:

recipe, sopa de ajo

They should be lightly golden but not brown. The idea is to crisp the bread so it holds together better when added to the soup. Set aside to cool & air dry:

recipe, sopa de ajo

Is that a lot of garlic? Nah. 15 cloves is about a whole head of garlic, & the flavor mellows out. Just be sure to slice evenly so the garlic cooks evenly as well:

recipe, sopa de ajo

Lightly brown garlic in olive oil on medium heat. If you’re afraid the garlic will burn, cook it on a lower heat… the process will just take longer. Don’t walk away here because nothing is worse than burnt garlic. Once the color is slightly golden, add the jamón. I had two types sitting in the fridge, so in they both went. The idea is for the small bit of fat to melt into the olive oil, not to crisp the jamón. Keep heat on medium:

recipe, sopa de ajo

Add paprika, & cook for about one minute while stirring. Paprika can burn & turn bitter, so again… don’t walk away during this step:

recipe, sopa de ajo

At this point, dump all the bread cubes into the pot so they get coated with that tasty, paprika-infused oil. Just a quick couple of stirs. Next, add the broth & raise heat to high. After reaching a boil, lower the heat back to medium-low, add parsley, cover & cook for a few minutes. At this point, you do you. Does it need salt? Probably not but taste & see. Add some pepper if you like. Is it too thick? Then add some more broth or water. Too watery? Cook it a little longer. You’re the boss:

recipe, sopa de ajo

Before serving, make a few wells in the soup with the back of a ladle. Add eggs one by one, cover & give them time to poach. Two to three minutes is usually all it takes, but again, this depends on how runny (or not) you like the yolks:

recipe, sopa de ajo

Serve & enjoy! Leftovers —as if you’d have any— will turn into something similar to stuffing the next day, as the bread continues to absorb liquid. Even more tasty. Hmmm, I wonder if I could modify this for a Thanksgiving stuffing…

recipe, sopa de ajo

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