Last month I wrote about how Italians make clever use of stale bread by turning it into a salad. This month we go to the Castilla y León region of Spain where clever peasants of yore turned stale bread, garlic, and scraps of ham into a delicious soup.
The beauty of this dish is that it makes for a light summer meal when you don’t want to have the stove on for too long, and a hearty appetizer during winter. I’m all for dishes that don’t take a lot of time or ingredients and this soup delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The bread soaks up the soup, giving it a pudding-like texture, while the poached egg lends a creamy richness that belies its humble origins.
While most traditional recipes use Spanish ham to make the stock, I tend to use chicken stock just because it’s what I keep in my pantry. I usually use about 2 cloves of garlic per serving, but you can certainly increase or decrease this based on your preferences.
Sopa de Ajo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium cloves of garlic minced
- 50 grams stale bread torn into 1/2″ pieces (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon pimentón
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 eggs
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot, and then add the garlic. Sautee until fragrant but not browned. Add the bread and pimentón and continue sautéing until the bread is crispy on the outside and lightly toasted.
- Add the chicken stock, and bring to a gentle simmer. Depending on the type of stock you used, you’ll probably need to add some salt, but give it a taste first and keep adding salt in small quantities until you’re happy with the taste.
- Push the bread around to make 2 wells in the soup to hold the eggs. Break an egg into each well and use a spoon to scoop hot soup over each egg until the eggs are cooked how you like them (personally I like them runny).
Yield: 1-2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.