Origin: Castilla La Mancha
Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), or Sopa Castellana as it is also known, is another Spanish dish with humble origins. It was the Castilian shepherds who are responsible for creating it when they had to traverse long distances and needed a dish that would not only warm them up in the cold winter nights, but also give them a lot of energy at once.
As a popular dish, it has suffered some evolutions and changes over the course of time and as such, it has many variations. Nevertheless the basic recipe still remains: water, old bread (usually leftover bread from the previous few days) red pepper, garlic, olive oil and spices.
Even though it's genesis took place in Castile, sopa de ajo is consumed all over the country. It has been a typical lunch for many years, and sometimes eaten a couple of hours after breakfast, with an egg or two inside which cook with the soup's own heat. This may sound a bit gross but in fact it is believe by som eexperts to be a great hangover cure!
In some places it is a very common dish during Lent, which is why you might think that Spain smells of garlic around Easter time. In the past it was quite common to serve sopa de ajo in weddings, with parsley and chopped hard boiled egg.
Sopa de ajo or sopa castellana is not only very palatable, but also incredibly healthy.
Sopa de ajo's variations use basically the same base ingredients but add others to the mixture in order to change the flavour. For instance sopa de ajo from Andalusia adds cauliflower to the water and doesn't use red pepper. People in Aragon add egg and bread fried in butter or pork fat, in Rioja they had chopped tomatoes and green peppers, in Navarra they use a dehydrated type of red pepper instead of fresh, called pimiento choricero (in Spanish), and many others.
So it doesn't matter how you like your sopa de ajo, you can add as many different ingredients as you like as long as the basic ones remain the same. Sopa de ajo is easy to make, uses common ingredients and takes a short time. Plus, with it being designed for cold nights out in the countryside, what better soup to make for a cold winter night than this?
Ingredients (6 portions):
You can add any ingredient you like to the basic sopa de ajo recipe: ham, sausage, bacon or tuna go very well with it as well as many of the other products you would find in the country if you ever decided to visit Spain.