Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sopa de Ajo Mexicana: Mexican Garlic Soup

One of my favorite Mexican comfort foods, this rich garlic soup is easy to make and excellent for any occasion when you need some comforting. Got a cold? Feeling a bit under the weather? Just feeling a little blue? On a day when it's raining on your inside or outside, this stuff is as good as a hug, with the added benefit of tasting really really good!

It's a bit time consuming peeling all those garlic cloves, but that's made easier if you smash them first with the flat side of a knife; then the peel slides right off. And of course both you and your kitchen will smell of garlic for a while, but I think that's a positive. I loves me some garlic!

In Spain this soup is traditionally served over toasted bread slices with a poached egg in every bowl. This recipe, which was given to me by a neighbor in Baja many years ago, takes a different tack with both bread and eggs. Either method is great, but I've got a real soft spot in my heart for this one.

Try it, you'll like it!

SOPA DE AJO MEXICANA:
Serves about 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 30 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 6 Cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 Cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 poblano chile pepper (sometimes mislabeled as pasilla peppers in the USA), roasted, peeled, seeded and minced
  • Crumbled Asadero cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Roast or broil poblano pepper until the skin is well blistered and partly charred. Immediately place in plastic or brown paper bag and set aside for about 20 minutes. When they have "sweated" long enough and are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off (it's OK if some of it remains on the pepper). Remove seeds, and coarsely dice.

While the pepper is "sweating", tackle the garlic. With flat side of knife, mash garlic cloves and peel them. (Yes, all of them.) Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large heavy pan, add the 30 smashed cloves of garlic and saute about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown but not burned. Remove from heat (save the oil).

With a slotted spoon, remove garlic to a blender and add 1/4 Cup of water. Puree. Set aside. (This is a good time to peel the pepper and dice it.)

Brown 3/4 cup of dry bread crumbs in the oil you've used to saute the garlic. Add the pureed garlic, diced poblano chile and 6 cups of chicken stock. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl. Bring the soup to a boil, and add the eggs in a stream, stirring constantly and quickly with a fork so the eggs are incorporated into the broth and don't cook in a big lump. Cook 3 minutes more. Taste for salt. Crumble cheese on top of each bowlful.

Alternately, with soup at a boil, slip 4 eggs gently into the broth (one at a time) so the yolk doesn't break. When eggs are poached, serve in bowls with one egg per bowl and cheese on top.

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email lahuerita2@gmail.com (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)