Spanish Garlic soup originates from the Castilian region in the interior of Spain, specifically in the small area of Zamora.
This soup has a simple base and is therefore subject to multiple variants; it is common to see other ingredients in the soup besides the ones detailed in this recipe.
In ancient times, this Castilian soup was a typical lunch for humble people. It was an extremely cheap and very comforting recipe to spread warmth throughout the body in cold rural areas. It was eaten in the middle of the morning to maintain strength for the day, usually with one or two eggs cracked inside, which were cooked from the heat of the soup.
Like most ancient recipes, it served the added function of utilizing leftover bread from the day before.
In certain places in Spain, this soup is one of the typical dishes of Lent, because it doesn’t require meat and its simplicity suits the religious focus. It constitutes one important element of the rituals involved in the processions of Holy Week.
Like all popular dishes, it’s celebrated highly; there are even poems dedicated to the Spanish Garlic Soup. Here’s one by Ventura de la Vega (1807-1865):
Wide and deep bowl, manufactured
Of clay (like me) I put it on the fire;
I fill it with water: a broken bread
In small fragments I will throw it in later;
With salt and sprinkled paprika,
Of pure shy oil I water it;
Spanish garlic two chunks I peel
I hide them in the spongy dough.
A few points of technique when you make garlic soup.
- If you don’t have stale bread, you can use toasted bread.
- On a final note regarding technique, make sure you add the egg as soon as you turn off the heat so the egg will cook fully in the soup.
Garlic Soup with Egg and Croutons (Spain)
- 2 slices stale bread (you can toast the bread if not stale), cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 eggs
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 liter chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste (at least ½ teaspoon pepper)
Peel the garlic and cut into slices.
Pour olive oil into a pot (enough to just cover the bottom) and heat over medium-high heat.
Add in the garlic and fry until it begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the bread to the pot so that they are fried with the garlic and become soaked in the oil.
Turn the heat to low and add the paprika. Pour in the broth and stir.
Bring the soup to a low boil and then cook on a low simmer for about 25 minutes. It is ready when the bread is soft and the soup has a rich brown color.
Salt and pepper, to taste adding at least ½ teaspoon pepper.
Remove soup from the heat and immediately crack the eggs inside so that they are cooked with the residual heat. Stir the eggs into the soup. Eat warm.