Camino de Santiago traditions
From the very start of the Camino de Santiago, soups have been a main dish served to tired and hungry pilgrims walking the trail. Historically, pilgrims were served a few different soups on their walk to Santiago de Compostela. One of these soups was, and still is, Soup de Ajo or Garlic Soup.
Another one of the most popular soups on the Camino, and perhaps the more famous is Caldo Gallego. We have already shared our family recipe for this soup. We wanted to share another one of our favorite soup recipes – Sopa de Ajo.
Health Benefits of Ajo/Garlic
This soup not only is delicious but it also packs a great deal of health benefits due to the nature of garlic. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Greeks and the Chinese all believed in the medicinal benefits of garlic. Below are some of the accepted benefits of the garlic bulb:
- Garlic is highly nutritious – containing Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium and Fiber.
- Garlic can combat sickness, including the common cold.
- Garlic has components that can reduce Blood Pressure.
- Garlic can improve Cholesterol levels which has been known to reduce the risk of Heart Disease.
- Garlic contains Antioxidants that may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
- Garlic can ward of vampires. (Ok, this may be more of a debatable topic than the others. Lol.)
Sopa de Ajo
Sopa de Ajo is served all over Spain, but it is more popular in the states of Galicia and Castile y León. The Romans were thought to be the ones to first introduce the use of garlic in the Spanish Mediterranean diet.
The garlic taste in the Sopa de Ajo is not too powerful and is quite subtle. The soup is normally found with chunks of hearty bread in it as well as a poached egg. There are many variations of this soup throughout Spain.
We sharing a simple, but one of our favorite recipes for Sopa de Ajo. We hope you can try to make it at home during these winter days.
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3-4 slices of stale bread (we like dense Galician bread, but you can try a variety and see which type and how much you like)
- 4oz Serrano ham (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
- 8 cloves of garlic
- salt to taste
- Peel and cut the garlic into thin strips. Do not use a garlic press. Sauté in a good portion of hot oil. Lower the heat to low and cook until they begin to turn a light brown.
- Add the Serrano ham, cut into small cubes.
- Continue leaving everything on low heat, the moment you see that the ham changes color, add a heaping teaspoon of sweet paprika. Combine everything very well in the pan.
- Next, add the stale bread cut into thin slices. Stir so that all the bread can absorb the oil with the paprika.
- Add your desired amount of water and let it cook over low heat for 10 minutes. The soup should be pretty thick so do not add too much water.
- Add salt to taste, but bear in mind that the Serrano ham will give it a lot of flavor, so it is better to add salt little by little.
- If you want to incorporate the eggs, add each broken egg one by one. You need to add 1 per person, at least, based on the amount of water you added before. The whites will set in after only a few minutes of cooking time. If you want the yolk to be well cooked, leave it for about 5 minutes.
- Remove and serve hot. We recommend more chunky bread for dunking!
All photos by RCI Photography.
Leech, J. (2018, June 28). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic. Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic