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It’s creeping up behind me. Its horrible, leering presence waiting to pounce. Biding its time before it makes its move, waiting for a show of weakness before an attack. No, it’s not a platinum blonde 80’s BBC presenter, but the beginnings of a cold.
And I’m not having it. It’s a busy time of year, with a hectic social calendar. I also have lots of things I need to do. Lists to draw up. Gifts to buy. Menus to plan. Curtains to make. Meetings to attend. I do not have the time to pander to the needs of a cold.
And so at the first hint of the fuzzy head, the lack of concentration, that tiny patch of burning in the back of the throat just waiting to multiply and spread, I retaliate. My weapons of choice – three key ingredients that when combined, create a life giving nectar. Every glug of broth warming the very marrow in your bones. This is the thing to consume at the first signs of a cold. Along with some zinc and Vitamin C supplements. And I’ll put good money on it working. Let me know.
Garlic Soup (from La Mancha)
This is a slightly different take on the Garlic Soup with Eggs recipe taken from the excellent Rick Stein’s Spain.
And here’s how he introduces this dish:
“If I were to describe this soup as hot stock with fried garlic, grilled bread and a poached egg, it would sound rather dull, but the fact that it is made all over Spain and is at the very heart of the cooking of Castilla-La Mancha tells you there’s something magical about this combination.”
Makes several portions, but can be drunk by one person over the course of the day / evening.
As much garlic as your family, friends and co-workers will let you get away with. Try at least a whole head, each clove very thinly sliced.
A kettle full of boiled water
3 chicken stock cubes (I particularly like Knorr)
Pimenton picante (smoked hot Spanish paprika)
Good quality thickly sliced white bread
Gently fry the garlic in a very decent glug of olive oil in a saucepan until lightly golden, but no darker.
Crumble the stock cubes into the pan and stir until they’ve melted.
Add a freshly boiled kettle of water and bring to a simmer.
Add the pimenton to taste – start with 1tsp and keep going if you fancy it. I have quite a bit in mine.
Turn off the heat and crack an egg into the pan. You can do this into a ladle full of the liquid – this way the egg doesn’t touch the pan base and the yolk stays runny.
Grill a slice of bread. Tear and place at the bottom of a bowl.
Once the egg is cooked, ladle it and some liquid over the bread, until your bowl is full.
Devour and bask in its healing qualities. Consume the remaining broth during the rest of the evening, slurping appreciatively straight from the bowl or from a mug.
The key ingredient is the pimenton and you can find it in good supermarkets, often in the specialist section rather than in the general spice rack aisle. Delicatessens are also likely to stock it. You can see the two brands I use in the images, bought from Waitrose and Selfridges.
As Rick says, this doesn’t sound like much. And I’ll be the first to admit the photograph of it is nothing special. But you simply will not understand the greatness of this simple soup until you try it. Possibly the easiest thing you’ll ever make, and one of the tastiest.
Don’t ever let your cupboards run out of this exquisite spice.