Spain is a vast country with a rich and varied gastronomy, often changing from one region to another. For example, typical dishes from Madrid may differ from those eaten in Galicia. However, there are some dishes most Spaniards taste at one point or another, and one of those is garlic soup.
Although also known as "Castilian soup" because of its origin is in the regions of Castile and Leon, this recipe has spread throughout all of Spanish gastronomy. The base of the soup is similar everywhere, but every region puts their own spin on the dish.
Because of this, you're unlikely to taste two bowls of garlic soup that are the same. They all vary in taste depending on the cook's preferences or the family recipe, which are often passed down from generation to generation. Garlic soup is a classic "grandmother's recipe."
Where does garlic soup come from?
The origins of garlic soup are among the most humble, evidenced by its two main ingredients: garlic and stale bread. The region of Castilla y León is considered one of the coldest in the whole country, and in ancient times, it was even colder. The harsh winters posed a challenge for poor families in the area, including peasants and shepherds, who did what they could to make nourishing soups with the few ingredients they had on hand. In addition to nourishment, the soup provided a source of warmth. Today, this dish is eaten by folks from all walks of life.
How to Prepare a Classic Garlic Soup
Eaten particularly during the Easter season, when devout Catholics fasted from meat, garlic soup is a simple dish without any animal protein. This makes it an excellent dish for vegans and vegetarians. You can, of course, add in chorizo, jamón, or an egg, which are common variations that make the soup all the more satisfying and flavorful.
- 2 oz. sandwich bread (preferably a few days old)
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ Tablespoon of sweet paprika.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into thin slices.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic cloves to the oil and sauté until golden brown.
- Add the bread and sauté until golden brown, stirring constantly. Once cooked, remove half the bread slices and set aside.
- Add paprika and continue to stir to keep the paprika from burning.
- Add 4.25 cups of water to the pot and season with salt to taste.
- Let the soup cook for 20 minutes. Then add the remainder of the bread, letting it soften and absorb the flavors of the soup.
- Cover the pot and let the soup finish cooking. You can also break up the bread with a fork to distribute it throughout the soup.
- Serve warm. ¡Buen provecho!
Tips to Prepare the Best Garlic Soup
- Cook the soup over medium-low heat. You don't want the liquid to ever get to a boil. If too much liquid evaporates it will change some of the most important characteristics of the soup.
- When cutting the bread, try to make the slices as thin as possible. You can also remove the crusts, but some people prefer to leave them on. It's up to you!
- Feel free to get creative and add in other ingredients. Due to its simplicity, garlic soup offers up a whole world of possibilities. Add chorizo to the pan, for example, when you sauté the bread. You can also add seasonal veggies. Or try adding in an egg at the end, separating the whites into the pot and adding a yolk to each dish.