Garlic is an iconic, healthful essential in the Mediterranean diet, and sopa de ajo, or garlic soup, is pungent, warming and simple. If you happened to have had a Spanish grandmother, this is what she would serve you when you are sick. It’s both comforting and energizing–perfect for days when you might be feeling depleted. As an added bonus, it’s also a good way to use up leftover bread.
Recipes vary widely, but one of the most popular versions hails from Castile. This recipe is simple enough to leave plenty of room for improvisation. For added nutrients, opt for whole wheat bread or multigrain baguette. Sautéing the bread at the beginning of the recipe instead of adding it at the end lends thickness to the broth while smoked Spanish paprika gives the soup an interesting complexity.
If you want a heartier soup, toss in a handful of dark leafy greens, like chard or spinach or some diced potatoes. If you want some extra kick, increase the garlic and paprika. The crowning glory of the soup is a poached egg, which adds creaminess to the broth along with added protein and nutrients.
Note: Spanish smoked paprika comes both in hot and sweet versions. If you prefer your soups mild, use the sweet. You will still get the unique smoky taste