Tonight I was looking for something quick, savory, heart warming, healthy, and healing for dinner. Harry wrecked his bicycle in a pothole on his way to work yesterday, and sprained his right shoulder. Despite me nagging him to take it easy, he insisted on raking dog poo, planting some remaining seeds needing planting, and folding laundry. By the time I got around to dinner, he was passed out on the couch with a heating pad on his shoulder.
Soup is a go-to meal for me when I need comfort. My usual comfort soup is Tom Kha Gai, Thai chicken and coconut soup. Tonight, I didn’t have all of the ingredients needed for that comfort food, so I turned my attention to my cookbook collection before turning to the Internet. Mastering the Art of French Cooking jumped off the shelf. Garlic is cleansing for our blood and contains high amounts of vitamin C, so Aïgo Bouïdo seemed a good idea for someone who is healing from injury. The recipe that follows is adapted from Julia’s recipe and one I found from Williams Sonoma. I decided to turn to the Internet to compare recipes.
Here is how I made it today. If you want to read the recipes I adapted from, references are posted at the end of this post.
8-12 whole, unpeeled garlic cloves (the more the merrier, I’ll use more next time I make this, but I only had 8 cloves this time)
4 cups water (I might use a stock next time for more flavor)
1 1/2 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence (Williams Sonoma uses sage leaves, Julia uses a list of dried herbs, my Mother-in-law brought back Herbes de Provence from Provençal area of France. I used this blend because it seemed appropriate and Julia’s recipe called for all the herbs in this blend.)
2 whole raw eggs
1 egg yolk
1tsp. Olive oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 thick slices good crusty French bread or homemade bread
Olive oil to drizzle on bread
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional, but Julia suggests it and I don’t need big reasons to put cheese on something)
Bring water or stock to boil. Add the garlic, dried herbs, and pinch of salt to the rapid boiling water. Turn heat down, and simmer garlic and herbs for 15 min. Meanwhile, while garlic is simmering, drizzle slices of bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toast in a moderate oven or toaster oven until browned and crisp (about 5 min. In my toaster oven). Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven to melt and toast the cheese, about 2-3 more minutes. Place croutons in the bottoms of individual soup bowls.
After 15 minutes, remove garlic from liquid with a slotted spoon. Let the garlic cool for a minute or two so it’s easier to handle. Peel garlic cloves and set aside. Bring the liquid back to a light simmer. Crack the eggs into small ramekins, and gently lower the eggs, one at a time, into the hot water.** Poach eggs to desired doneness, 3-4 minutes. Gently remove eggs from liquid with a slotted spoon, briefly drain with a paper towel under the spoon. Place the eggs on top of the croutons in the soup bowls. One egg per person.
Return garlic to liquid. At this point you can purée garlic, herbs, and liquid in food processor, blender, or, my personal choice, a stick blender. Blend until smooth. return soup back to sauce pan, bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Whisk the remaining egg yolk with olive oil in a small bowl until thickened and emulsified. Add 1 TBS hot soup to egg mixture, whisk, and add 2 more TBS soup to egg mixture one at a time, whisking to incorporate, or temper the egg to the soup. Pour egg/soup mixture back into saucepan, return to low heat. Using stick blender, blend until well incorporated and frothy. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can quickly whisk egg mixture into soup, or return soup back to food processor or blender. You may not get the frothiness that you get with the stick blender, but that’s really just for esthetics.
Ladle soup over poached eggs and croutons in each soup bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with pretty fresh herbs (I had rosemary) and serve immediately.
This soup proved to be simple, quick, healthy, easy, heart warming, and healing. This recipe will be in regular rotation for those nights when only a warm bowl of nourishing soup can heal what ails ya.
Some variations I might try:
Steeping dried Dried Pueble chilis in the stock while the garlic simmers, then purée them in with the soup, changing the herb to cilantro, maybe adding a touch of lime juice, and instead of croutons, some roasted pepitos– Southwest Garlic Soup
Using fresh or dried dill in place of Herbes de Provence
Adding sliced mushrooms to the poaching liquid along with the poaching eggs, and replacing the croutons with homemade wheat crackers crumbled on top.
**This cooking liquid does not have any acid in it, so your poached eggs will have feathery whites. Vinegar helps stabilize the whites in normal egg poaching liquid, resulting a more uniform poached egg. In this case, the whites may spread further, causing the whites to be less uniform in shape. It’s only esthetic, but if you want pretty poached eggs, use your normal method with separate cooking liquid that contains water, vinegar, and salt only.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Berthole, and Simone Beck copyright: 1966, thirteenth printing December 1966 page 47