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Sopa de ajo / Garlic soup

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30/07/2012 by Mark Leach

Despite an outside temperature of 29 degrees celsius, I was in the mood for some soup yesterday. Inspired by a stall selling tresses of garlic at the Saturday market in Saintes, I decided to make Sopa de Ajo, or Garlic soup.

How garlicky is the soup? Very. The recipe I followed is taken from a Moro cookbook, and it calls for 4-5 heads of garlic. But perhaps because I used young garlic, the actual soup didn’t taste too garlicky. Or maybe it was the chorizo and paprika that neutralized the garlic. In any case, the soup tasted great and was a perfect not-too-filling not-too-light evening meal.

Recipe

4-5 heads of garlic

100g chorizo, cut into small chunks

1 litre chicken stock

4 eggs

4 slices of ciabatta, toasted (or any crusty bread would do)

Equipment

Pan big enough to take 1 litre of stock

Small knife to cut the chorizo

4 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin or just ordinary)

Measuring jug for the stock

3 teaspoons thyme

Method

First of all prepare the garlic. You’ll need to take the garlic heads and separate the individual bulbs. Keep the skin on the bulbs – if you cook them without their skins they’re more likely to burn. So peel the bulbs away from each other carefully. If they don’t want to come apart then leave them stuck together. They’ll still cook in the oil. Remove any excess bits of garlic skin. I do this by gently rubbing the bulb between my thumb and finger to remove any of the dried skin. If you don’t remove the excess skin it could come off in the pan later and you’ll have to remove it from the oil, which is a pain.

Garlic ready, put the pan on a low-medium heat and add the oil. Let it heat for a minute then add the garlic. Maybe wear an apron unless you want an oily shirt. You’re going to cook the garlic bulbs for 20 minutes – long enough to have squishy, not burnt, garlic. This is probably why the recipe doesn’t tell you to roast them in the oven – too hot.

While the garlic is cooking you can prepare your chorizo. Oh and you could put the kettle on to boil some water for your stock too. For the chorizo you’re looking for bite sized pieces – about the size of your thumbnail. I skin the chorizo – run a knife from the top to the bottom of the sausage – just lightly enough to go through the surface but not cut too deep. This means you can peel the skin off easily. Then chop up your chorizo.

Have a look at your garlic and shake the pan a little just to distribute the oil over the bulbs. Try not to stir them too much as this could take the skin off.

After 20 minutes remove them from the oil, trying not to take too much oil with them. Put them to one side and let them cool. When cool remove the garlic from the skins – your fingers will smell but it will be worth it! Crush the garlic with a fork so you have a big garlicky paste.

Now fry the chorizo in the oil – don’t have the oil too hot or the chorizo will burn. After 5 minutes it should be done so add the garlic paste to the pan with the thyme and paprika. Mix it all together and cook for a few minutes.

Now add the stock and mix well. Check for seasoning. After a few minutes add the eggs, one by one. I stir the soup with a wooden spoon in circular motions to create a whirlpool effect. Then break one of the eggs into the liquid. Stop stirring and wait about 20-30 seconds for the egg to cook slightly then add another egg to a different part of the soup. Keep going until you’ve added all 4 eggs.If you can, try and remember which egg you put in first, second, third and fourth. If you do this you can take out your first egg when you add the fourth. That way your eggs will have had the same cooking time. Remove each egg to a serving bowl and add some of the toasted bread then spoon over the soup. Add some thyme to decorate and you’re done.

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