Sopa de Ajo, also known as Spanish Garlic Soup, is a rustic, traditional soup from Spain, particularly popular in the regions of Castile and León.
It is often considered a “peasant” dish due to its simple ingredients that are affordable and commonly found in Spanish kitchens: garlic, stale bread, paprika, and broth.
About Sopa de Ajo
Sopa de Ajo has a long and rich history that reflects the Spanish tradition of making the most out of available ingredients.
It can also be called Castilian Soup (as well as Sopa Castellana or Sopa de Ajo con Huevos) since it comes from the Castilian region (central Spain).
The essence of the soup—garlic, bread, paprika, and broth—remains consistent, continuing a culinary tradition that dates back generations.
The soup is most notably associated with the region of Castile and León in northwestern Spain, where people needed to make hearty dishes during the harsh winters.
It also has strong ties to the Catholic tradition in Spain, particularly during the Lent season. As a meatless dish, it is appropriate for the fasting period and it’s often consumed on Good Friday.
Ingredients (+ Substitutions)
These are all the ingredients you’ll need to make this hearty Spanish garlic bread soup – Sopa de Ajo!
- Garlic: Large, film garlic cloves give the best quality garlicky taste. If it’s soft or discolored, then it’s starting to show its age. Garlic cooks quickly and can become more bitter when burnt, so keep an eye on it.
- Olive Oil: Choose a good quality olive oil like extra virgin olive oil for the best taste.
- Smoked Paprika: Paprika gives this soup a nice red hue and adds some smokiness.
- Stock: The soup is traditionally made with water, but some chicken stock here really adds to the flavor. Vegetable stock can be used as well.
- Bread: Stale or day-old bread is a common ingredient in many traditional Spanish recipes, helping to thicken the soup and giving it its unique texture. Since we’re speeding things up here, we’ll simply cook the bread in the pan to give it that crunchy texture.
- Eggs: Many authentic Sopa de ajo recipes whisk the eggs into the simmering broth, but in this recipe, we’ll simply poach them at the end instead.
- Parsley: Always makes a great garnish and adds some nice color and freshness.
How to Make Sopa de Ajo
This soup is ready so quickly and couldn’t be simpler!
Start by heating a generous amount of olive oil in a pot, then sauté thinly sliced garlic until it’s golden but not burned.
Add slices or cubes of stale bread to the pot, allowing them to soak up the garlic-infused oil and toast until they’re crispy.
Sprinkle in some Spanish paprika, stirring quickly to prevent it from burning.
Pour in your chosen broth, either chicken or vegetable (we prefer chicken though). Let the soup simmer gently for a time, allowing all the flavors to meld together.
When you’re ready to serve, crack an egg into each individual bowl and ladle the hot soup over it. The heat of the soup will partially cook the egg, leaving the yolk deliciously runny.
Season to taste, garnish with some extra chopped parsley and serve immediately!
Variations of the dish can be found depending on the region or personal preference, with some adding ingredients like ham, chorizo, or different spices.
A splash of dry white wine or Spanish sherry can also be added before the broth can give the soup a more complex flavor. Be sure to let it simmer a bit to cook off the alcohol.
- Serve immediately: The bread absorbs the liquid, turning it into something like a bread pudding rather than soup.
- If your egg is breaking when you drop it into the pan: Swirl the boiling water around before dropping the egg in. Put the egg in a separate bowl and get it as close to the water as possible before dropping to avoid breaking.
- Cook the egg whites until opaque: the broth cooks the eggs – simply just wait until the egg whites are opaque and you’re good to go.
- Don’t burn the paprika: Paprika can burn easily and lose its flavor if cooked on high heat for too long. Take the pot off the pan and add it after the garlic and bread have been sautéed and just before the broth ensures its flavor gets incorporated without scorching.
- Don’t burn the garlic either: Garlic can easily burn. Sauté it over medium heat and keep a close eye on it. You want the garlic to become golden, not brown.
- Dry the bread out a day before: The stale bread absorbs the broth better and gives the soup a thicker texture. If you only have fresh bread, you can cook it in the oven to dry it out.
More Delicious Mediterranean Soup Recipes
We love this Spanish soup, but there are so many tasty soups in the Mediterranean region. Here are some of our favorites:
- Yayla Corbasi (Turkish Mint Yogurt Soup)
- Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)
- Mercimek Corbasi (Turkish Lentil Soup)
- Mediterranean Bean Soup
- ¼ cup (4 tbsp / 60 ml) olive oil
- 8-10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 4-6 cups (1-1.5L) chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 eggs
- 10 oz (85g) or 2 medium slices) bread, torn into pieces
- Chopped parsley, to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic cloves, cooking until they turn golden, around 1-2 minutes.
- Cut the bread into cubes and add them to the pot, stirring until they soak up the oil and turn crispy, or about 3 minutes.
- Take the pot off the burner, and sprinkle in the paprika. Stirring it into the bread and garlic mixture, add back to the heat and cook for an extra minute until the spices are fragrant.
- Pour in the chicken broth, bringing the mixture to a boil. Adjust the stock as needed. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Break the bread up with a wooden spoon or whisk so that the bread thickens the soup.
- Before serving, bring the soup to a boil. Crack the eggs one at a time and drop them into the pot. Poach them for about 4 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks remain runny.
- To serve, ladle the soup into the bowl and then use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg and add on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with some extra parsley and serve.
Amount Per Serving Calories 154Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 186mgSodium 1290mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 9g
Want More Delicious, Mediterranean Style Recipes?
If you’ve cooked this recipe, be sure to leave a comment or review! But if you’re looking for more: