Garlic Soup

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I have tried to replicate my favorite garlic soup from La Nacional to twice fail miserably in order to find that the third time’s the charm. Before La Nacional, I’d never been tempted to have garlic soup. I like garlic and I like soup, but together it seemed either uninteresting or lethal. Now, I crave it. La Nacional’s version has a complex and pungent flavor that is not overpowering, with bits of egg and bread for body and textures. How hard could it be to make? I asked the owner, who replied, “You’ll have to call me, if you want the recipe.” Wink wink nudge nudge.

So I looked it up on the internet instead. I tried the Epicurious version which is essentially a puree of tomatoes, peppers, and garlic heated in olive oil, then poured over toasted/dry bread. I can’t say that it didn’t taste good, it did, but it wasn’t La Nacional. This soup was more vegetal-y, thicker in texture, and strong in a raw garlic way.

Upon another visit to La Nacional, I asked again, explaining my failure. A guessing game ensued – “Is there tomato?” “No.” “Are there peppers?” “No.” “Is there onion?” “No?”. My badgering led him to finally reveal the secret ingredients – chicken stock, garlic, paprika, egg, and bread. Hmmm, “no fish stock?” “No.”

I got the proportions from another internet search, which seemed right except the loaf of French bread. I don’t recall that much bread in the soup, but it seemed necessary for the process since in the beginning, slices of bread are placed in the pot after the garlic is cooked and covered with water. Part of the body of the soup? The flavor was on target, but it was hardly soup. More like soggy bread pudding, or soggy sponges! I tried to convince myself that it was custard-y, but it was just another flop. So close yet so far.

Ever determined, the third attempt combined he ingredients of failure #2 and the final step of failure #1. Just right.

Garlic Soup – serves four

-mince 6 cloves garlic
-heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat, add garlic. DO NOT BROWN, about 2 minutes until fragrant.
-add 1 quart chicken stock and 6t sweet paprika. Bring to a boil, simmer for 30 minutes.
-add 4 eggs, beaten, while stirring the soup
-add 1/4t salt
-pour over a slice of toasted, not browned, French bread

If you like a soupier soup, cut back by an egg or two.

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