Make something from nothing. That is the lesson passed down through generations of home cooks. In old Provence, clever cooks learned to rely on a kind of stone soup to get through winter. Called Aigo Boulido, or boiled water soup, this thin soup pulls all of its flavor from a few crushed cloves of garlic. As sad as that sounds, garlic soup tastes transcendent, like the jus of a good roast chicken, when made with broth instead of water.

Use very fresh garlic or cut out the green germ in older cloves. The germs are bitter and will destroy the soup’s delicate flavor.

By / Photography By Marlene Rounds | December 01, 2016

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6–8 leaves fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Parmesan or Gruyere, for grating

Preparation

Add-ons:

Thinly sliced kale or Swiss chard, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

Frozen peas

Small pasta like orzo or stelle (little stars)

Warm a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat. While the pan warms, use the side of your knife to gently crush the garlic cloves, removing the skin and any green germs.

Add a tablespoons or two of olive oil to the pot and add the garlic and fresh sage. Warm, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling but not brown, about 3–5 minutes. Add the broth and bay leaf just before the garlic starts to brown. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to let simmer about 10–15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want to thicken the soup, use egg option 2 now. Otherwise, add your extras of choice and continue simmering until the greens and/or pasta are cooked.

Place baguette toasts (with or without a poached egg on top, see egg option 1) in a shallow soup bowl and ladle hot garlic broth over the bread. Top with grated cheese.

Egg Options

• One: Serve soup ladled over a poached egg on baguette toast and topped with grated cheese.

• Two: If you like a thicker soup, whisk two eggs until one homogenous color in a medium-sized bowl. Continue whisking as you ladle quarter cup after quarter cup of hot soup into the egg bowl until the egg is tempered. Add the soup/broth mixture back into the pot and whisk until the entire pot is of the same, slightly thicker consistency.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6–8 leaves fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Parmesan or Gruyere, for grating
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