Healthy Spanish garlic soup, Sopa de Ajo. A humble recipe using 7 simple ingredients, ready in 15 minutes from start to finish. The most nourishing bowl of healthy restorative soup.
This soup saved my life. Twice.
That should be a good enough intro to just scroll on down to the recipe and get cooking, but I guess I should offer some context.
I fell madly in love with this soup in Spain almost 2 years ago. My sisters and I had just begun our Camino de Santiago adventure (a 500-mile hike across Spain) and had successfully climbed up and over the Pyrenees mountains. It was pouring rain, cold, and foggy, and our bodies were crying in exhaustion and pain. The guidebooks said the walk that day should take around 4 or 5 hours, it took us 8. It was brutal.
After long hot showers and a nap that felt more like a 40 minute medically induced coma, we decided to forego the traditional pilgrim meal at the albergue (hostel). Instead, we wobbled across the street to the only other option in town, the Hotel Roncesvalles. Luxury for our budget, but a quiet hotel meal sounded just perfect.
I was freezing cold, so tired, and legitimately I don't think I have ever felt hunger on this level before. We ordered quickly, a big meal. A bottle of wine, bread, olives, a big salad, garlic soup, and entrees of local fish, rice, and vegetables.
The salad was good, the wine was better, the soup was everything.
The Spanish garlic soup saved my life.
It was piping hot, smokey, and garlicky. Bold, brazen and rejuvenating.
The second time I had this life-saving soup was on our most recent Camino adventure (we are doing the hike in 100 mile increments yearly). It was our first day on the trail. A beautiful day, idyllic really. By the time dinner rolled around I was not only exhausted and starving but this time I also felt a little cold coming on. I had a low grade fever, chills, and sniffles. This was not the ideal condition to begin a 100-mile hike. I kept thinking to myself, how am I going to get through this? Then the soup arrived, in a huge bubbling terracotta terrine.
I was saved.
I woke up the next day healthy as a horse.
Garlic soup saved my life. Twice.
When I returned from Spain I had to figure out how to make this soup. The testing phase was long, I needed to get it to “save your life” perfection.
I did it.
As I was researching traditional Spanish garlic soup I came across an article that mentioned that Sopa de Ajo is traditionally eaten in the morning on Good Friday, and that just seems so right. This restorative soup served on a solemn holy day. I love it even more.
Traditionally the soup is prepared by sauteing a lot of garlic in really good (preferably Spanish) olive oil and smoked paprika. Spanish smoked paprika is an absolute necessity here. Then day old stale bread is added to the soup, and 2 whisked eggs. Think of a smokey, bread-ey, egg drop soup. A magical alchemy of simple ingredients.
I switched things up a bit in my version because I don't love the texture of soggy bread. Turning day-old bread into croutons is just as easy, and a crunchy paprika crouton on top of this garlic soup is heaven.
Simple, ready in 15 minutes, and I promise you it is amazingly delicious, nourishing, restorative, and in some cases – life-saving.
I sure hope you try this one.
Spanish Garlic Soup
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Toss bread cubes with olive oil, paprika, and salt. Spread out in single layer on baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Allow to cool and set aside. (If you have extra they will keep well in a sealed container for up to 1 week)
- In a large pot over medium-low heat, add olive oil and garlic. Slowly simmer garlic until fragrant - but not brown- for 3 minutes. Add salt and wine, cook to burn off alcohol for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add paprika, stir well to combine. The aroma will be intoxicating.
- Add chicken stock (or vegetable or even water will work) bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately, piping hot, with a few croutons on top.
- Chicken broth, vegetable broth, or even water will work
- Your garlic should be sliced on the thicker side, you don't want it to burn
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