Garlic Stone Soup
or Sopa de Ajo
Deep in the heat of summer and surrounded by mosquitoes, it's time to embrace the heat and fight back the bugs with garlic. Simply said, mosquitoes don't like garlic (there's a whole vampire analogy here - vampires suck blood, mosquitoes suck blood - neither like garlic - or so I've heard).
Our "sopa" recipe is a blend of several different garlic soup recipes (there are as many of these as there are chicken soup, and we all know that every granny in existence has her own version of that classic). A favorite addition to many is egg. We like either poaching the eggs in the simmering stock or blending into the hot liquid with an emulsion blender just before serving. Or better still, make two batches and try some of each.
However you decide to prepare this delicious soup, remember you may want to save a bowl for your goodnight kiss...or your special someone might just go the way of the mosquitoes.
In a heavy soup kettle or large saucepan, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water (with the stone) for about 5 minutes and then peel them (the tomatoes - not the stone). Cut each tomato into 4 slices. Set aside.
Strain the stone (reserve one cup of tomato water).
Gently saute the garlic in oil in the saucepan until the cloves are golden brown (3-5 minutes). Remove the garlic and set aside.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the paprika and the cayenne. Add the stock, sherry, stone and reserved cup of tomato water and stir to mix thoroughly.
Mash the garlic with a knife or the back of a spoon, divide in half. Add half the garlic to the stock mixture and simmer. Add saffron.
Spread remaining half of the garlic on both sides of each slice of bread. In a heavy skillet saute each slice on bread in the oil until browned on both sides.
Place each slice of bread in a shallow soup bowl. Top each one with 2 tomato slices. Add a pinch of fresh basil and a few drops of olive oil to each bowl. Add one cup of soup to each bowl.
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