I wish I was napping in Spain right now. Don't you? I would be taking a nice long siesta mid-day in a little inn somewhere between Salamanca and Segovia. Which is, incidentally, where this recipe originated. I found this recipe while reading the book "Spain, A Culinary Road Trip" which is written to accompany my most recent favorite foodie show, Spain...On The Road Again. I just adore watching almost any TV show about food and this is definitely one of my top three favorite shows of all time. While watching Mario, Gwyneth, Mark and Claudia literally eat their way through Spain I felt like I was right there with them savoring every single glass of cava, slice of jamon and morning churro. At one point during the series, when they were eating fresh paella by the sea, I think my mouth literally started to water. Sadly, like all good TV, this series came to an end in December. However, fortunately for me, Mario & Co. had the foresight to publish this book so that their road trip could live on for all of us.
I chose to make this particular soup because it is the perfect foil for cold winter weather. It is served hot, spiked with a sweet smoky paprika and has a delicate base of chicken broth with notes of garlic. As Mario writes, this soup is "Really simple, really satisfying, really good." I couldn't agree more. Enjoy!
Note: I found the Hot Pimenton at Dean & Deluca, but most specialty stores should carry it.
Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo) from Spain, A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb. stale bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (this will be about 3 cups)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. hot pimenton
8 cups chicken stock
6 poached eggs
1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven, add the bread and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until golden brown.
2. Add the garlic, pimenton and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes or until very fragrant.
3. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until bread is very soft.
4. Salt to taste.
5. Ladle soup into bowls and add a poached egg into each bowl to serve.
*Naptime Recipe Props: The soup was a snap to assemble. During naptime I cubed the bread and thawed and measured my fresh chicken stock. Then, in the evening I tossed the bread into the dutch oven, whipped up the garlic, pimenton and broth, add two poached eggs and dinner was served! I honestly can't think of a shorter or easier preparation for any soup. For the stale bread I suggest buying a baguette two days ahead of time so it is nice and hard when it comes time to cube it.
*Naptime Stopwatch: From cubing the bread, mincing the garlic and simmering the broth this soup took around 25 minutes to prepare. The poached eggs took an additional 6 minutes to prepare. It is helpful to prepare some of the ingredients during naptime, it makes for a quick assembly at dinner time.
*Husband Says...: "Muy Delicioso! This soup is packed with flavor yet not overwhelming. I love the soft bread that is soggy with the yummy broth and the poached egg really makes it. Thanks for serving us Spanish peasant food sweetie, it is good to know you and pull together dinner with stale bread, garlic and broth in this economy. Boy, my colleagues are going to love my garlic breath tomorrow!"
*Toddler Says...: "Blech! Two thumbs down. The paprika was far too much for my tender palate, the egg was not scrambled which is how I prefer my eggs, and I don't really love the taste of garlic." Mom Note: Frankly, I knew this was a stretch but I had to give her a little taste just to see where we stood. Now I know! Instead of the soup I served her Annie's Mac-n-Cheese, always a big hit.