This is a special Valentine’s Day post. You may think garlic soup is an odd choice for Valentine’s Day, but it has special memories for me.
When I was courting Nancy, we often went to the now-closed Cafe de Paris in Georgetown and had garlic soup, which was about all I could afford while I was looking for a job after my Army service. I know that some people avoid garlic on dates, but garlic soup has a very mild, nutty flavor, unlike, say, Subway’s Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread, which could be a way to end a relationship by mutual agreement. Anyway, no one who hates the smell of garlic is going to want to spend the rest of their life with me, so we needed to straighten that out right away. Only then could we move to issues like children, etc.
At any rate, the garlic soup worked its wonders, and on Valentine’s Day, 1975, two days after I got a job, we went to the Cafe de Paris. There, as we were eating garlic soup, I asked Nancy to marry me and she said, “Yes.” So garlic soup is very romantic for me.
There are many recipes for garlic soup. Most seem to be from France or Spain. This particular recipe is from my favorite cookbook, A Taste of Spain, by Liza Tanner Boyd. Yes, that Liza, the Liza whose recipes for the best coconut cake imaginable and the ultimate bourbon sweet potato casserole you really, really want to try. The ingredients for the garlic soup are in bold print.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan, and add 6 crushed garlic cloves. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes until they soften, but are not browned. Add 1 1/2 cups of fresh white breadcrumbs, and cook over a medium heat until they turn a light golden brown, Add 3 medium peeled and chopped ripe tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon of ground sweet paprika and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Add 4 cups of water, and simmer, cover, for 30 minutes. Lightly beat two large eggs in a bowl. Add some hot water from the soup to the bowl, maybe 1/8 cup at a time, and stir to warm the eggs gradually so that they don’t curdle when added to the soup. When the eggs are warm, add the mixture in a small stream to the simmering soup, stirring constantly. Heat the soup for a couple of additional minutes. Season the soup generously and pour it into a serving bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped parsley over the soup and serve immediately.
You will love this soup, and it may lead you to the love of your life. You never know.
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