Yes, garlic soup… I guess the very name will scare the hell out of a few people. Well, they are wrong. There’s no garlicky fierceness in these very Spanish garlic soup shots, only delicious mellowness. In fact, the larger contribution to its assertive flavor comes from the chorizo and the pimentón. Garlic soup or, as it is known in many regions, Castilian soup, is peasant fare. The simplest and cheapest dish you could prepare to warm up in the bleak plateau winter: garlic, pimentón, olive oil, stale bread, some chorizo or ham (if you were lucky to have some) and water. Nowadays garlic soup can also be enhanced with a good homemade meat or chicken stock, but it is not essential, as the result is quite delicious with just water.
The recipe I’ve used is a mixture of my mother’s and José Andrés’. Quite an endorsement, don’t you agree?
- 6 garlic cloves
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 6 slices good chorizo
- 1 generous dash white wine
- 1 cup thinly sliced stale bread
- 1 tsp sweet pimentón
- 2 cups water or stock
- Salt to taste
- 8 quail eggs
- Thinly slice the stale bread, set aside.
- Pour the oil in a pot or better, in an earthenware cazuela, which is the proper way to make garlic soup, and sauteé the sliced garlic cloves, till golden.
- Add the diced chorizo and sauteé 1 minute. Then add the pimentón, stirring for another minute, just to lightly toast it. Never allow pimentón to brown, as it develops a bitter taste.
- Add the wine and let concentrate for a couple of minutes.
- Add the bread and toss so that it absorbs the flavors. Then pour the water and add the salt. Let simmer 6-8 minutes for the bread to soak the liquid and the flavors to blend. The soup will feel somewhat gelatinous because of the bread. Taste the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep the soup steaming hot.
- Serve the soup in small ramequins or bowls, and add 2 quail eggs to each (1). Let the soup sit for a couple of minutes or more; the hot soup will make the eggs set.
Don’t fret if the soup looks messy. That’s the way it should look. The bread gives it a gelatinous and thick feel, with the egg floating on top. Enjoy it on a sunny and cold noon as a snack or for lunch, with a full-bodied red Spanish wine. You’ll get a glimpse of Spanish peasant life in Castille…
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