Call it sopa de ajo or garlic soup or ‘vampire’ soup (there’s a healthy amount of garlic to ward off a vampire or, perhaps, a winter cold). To me, sopa de ajo is Spain in a bowl. The addition of chorizo (smuggled back to NYC in my suitcase from a recent trip to Spain), along with smoked Spanish paprika reminds me of my incredible time in Spain.
When you simmer garlic in olive oil over low heat, the garlic becomes tender and sweet, and loses its sharp bite. This is a hearty one pot soup/stew that’s perfect for the cooler months. It’s a simple, homey, and satisfying soup. If you’re a fan of garlic (and bread), you’ll love this soup.
There are a few tweaks that you can make to elevate this humble soup. First, I recommend starting with a good chicken stock. Those boxed stocks, which have zero flavor, have nothing in common with a stock made from scratch (I like to buy a whole chicken, break it down, and save the carcass for stock; just freeze the stock until you’re ready to use). Want a vegetarian sopa de ajo? If so, use a quality vegetable stock (and, of course, omit the chorizo).
Next, the bread. I favor day-old sourdough (but any type of country bread will work just fine). Most recipes advise to discard the crusts, but I prefer to leave the crusts on (gives the soup more texture). Just lightly toast cubes of bread in a skillet with olive oil until golden and crispy. Thereafter, add the cubed bread to the soup.
Good quality smoked Spanish paprika (sweet or hot) is a must. The addition of Spanish chorizo is optional, but highly recommended.
Some recipes call for beating the eggs and whisking them into the soup. I prefer to crack the eggs on top of the soup towards the end and cook until the eggs are just set. It’s all about personal preference when it comes to taste. There’s no right or wrong. Perhaps try it both ways and see which you prefer.
Hope you enjoy!
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes or, for a more rustic look, tear into pieces.
A good quality chicken stock is key. I let the carcass, feet, and neck simmer for several hours, and then added the aromatics (which was whatever I had on hand — carrots, leek, onion, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, black peppercorn).
My chicken stock simmering away…
Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
2 ounces of Spanish chorizo, diced
1 to 2 teaspoon smoked (sweet or hot) Spanish paprika, more or less to taste
4 to 5 cups chicken stock, more if needed
6 ounces (day old) bread (used sourdough), cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces, *toasted (instructions below)
salt to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes (watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t brown or it will be bitter). Add the chorizo and paprika, and saute another minute. Add the toasted bread and stir to coat with the paprika oil. Add the stock (start with 4 cups and add more if needed; I ended up adding a little more stock since the bread soaks up a lot of liquid). Season with salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. Crack the eggs on top, cover and continue to cook until the eggs whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
Garnish with parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls. Place an egg on top. Sprinkle with a little more paprika and parsley.
*To toast the bread. Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the bread and cook about 5 minutes, until lightly golden and crispy, giving it a stir from time to time. Transfer to paper towels to drain.