Spanish Soup Recipe: Easy Garlicky Sopa de Ajo

This Spanish Soup recipe is one of our favourite healthy soups to enjoy during the cold Fall and Winter months.

Our homemade Spanish Soup recipe, also known as Sopa de Ajo, is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 30 minutes!

Spoon through a bowl of our healthy Spanish Garlic Soup featuring flavourful cured ham, smoked paprika, wine, egg and olive oil.

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What Is Soup?

Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but can also be served cold like gazpacho), that is prepared by combining meat or vegetables with stock or water.

Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, creating a rich broth.

Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Soups generally have more liquid (broth) than chunkier and heartier stews.

In traditional French cuisine, soups are classified into two groups: clear soups (bouillon and consomme) and thick soups (purees, bisques, veloutes).

Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream.

Ingredients you'll need to make our easy homemade Spanish Soup recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need to make our easy homemade Spanish Soup recipe.

History of Soup

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers, such as clay pots. To boil the water hot rocks were used.

The word soup comes from French soupe (broth), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning “restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as a cure to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.

In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.

English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Massachusetts called The Restorator, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.

Prepare Spanish Soup croutons with cubed bread, olive oil, onion powder and smoked paprika.
Prepare Spanish Soup croutons with cubed bread, olive oil, onion powder and smoked paprika.

Travel to Spain by Cooking Garlic Soup at Home

I love traveling to Europe!

During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through IrelandScotlandEnglandWalesPortugalBelgiumHollandDenmarkNorwaySwedenFinlandRussia,EstoniaLatviaPolandCzech RepublicGermanyAustriaCroatiaBosniaHungarySlovakiaGreeceTurkey, France and Italy.

What I love most about traveling to Spain is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The Spanish dishes in Madrid and Barcelona are unique to what you might find on restaurant menus in Salamanca, Toledo, Valencia, Mallorca, Ibiza, Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga.

Once back home from a Spanish holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Spain and can impress friends and family by making our quick & easy Spanish Soup recipe.

Our traditional Spanish Soup recipe features lots of garlic, salty cured ham and crunchy paprika croutons.
Our traditional Spanish Soup recipe features lots of garlic, salty cured ham and crunchy paprika croutons.

Where To Eat Spanish Soup

If you live in a large city in North America you’ll likely have access to plenty of soup-specific restaurants. We also love to visit local, family-run diners and cafes that offer menus specializing in “soups, sandwiches and salads.”

In Toronto, popular restaurants that serve soup include RaviSoups, Soup Nutsy, United Bakers Dairy, Cafe Polonez, Saffron Spice Kitchen, Santouka Ramen, Sansotei Ramen, Kenzo Ramen, Kinton Ramen, Ajisen Ramen, Maison Selby, Pho Vistro, Pho Hung, The Golden Turtle, Maha’s, Pai, Sabai Sabai, Khao San Road, One Love Vegetarian and Fabarnak.

You’re most likely to find traditional garlic soup at Spanish restaurants such as Carmen, Bar Isabel, Patria, Salt Wine Bar, Bar Raval, Barsa Taberna and Labora.

Begin preparing our Spanish Soup recipe by frying garlic and cured ham in a large pot with oil.
Begin preparing our Spanish Soup recipe by frying garlic and cured ham in a large pot with oil.

My Family Loves Spanish Garlic Soup

My family has a tradition of eating soup and salad for lunch on Sunday’s after getting home from church. Soup is such an simple and brainless meal to serve a busy family with kids.

My dad would often make cream of tomato soup and serve a bowl with grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Our family also loved slurping through bowls of Butternut Squash Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood spent in Toronto, Markham, Oakville and Muskoka are cozying up to a bowl of homemade soup with gourmet crackers, artisanal cheese and sourdough bread.

During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.

Garlic, eggs and cured ham are available in abundance year round in Canada but we especially love to serve this savoury soup in the Fall at Thanksgiving.

Sopa de Ajo or Sopa Castellana as it is also known, is yet another Spanish dish with humble origins. It was the Castilian shepherds who are responsible for creating it when they had to travel across long distances and needed a dish that would not only warm them up in the cold winter nights, but also give them a lot of energy all at once.

Even though it’s origins were in Castile, Spanish Garlic Soup is consumed all over the country today. It is typical light lunch, and is sometimes eaten a couple of hours after breakfast, with an egg or two dropped. They cook inside the bowl thanks to the soup’s own heat. It’s often touted as Spain’s hangover cure.

It is a very common dish to slurp during Lent, which is why you might think that Spain smells of garlic at Easter. In the past it was quite common to serve Spanish Soup with garlic at weddings, topped with parsley and chopped hard boiled egg.

When finished cooking the garlic and ham should be crispy.
When finished cooking the garlic and ham should be crispy.

Is Spanish Garlic Soup Vegetarian?

Castilian Sopa de Ajo is traditionally prepared with with garlic, olive oil, white wine, chicken stock, paprika, bread, egg and cured Spanish ham.

Spainards love pork so much you’ll almost find it in everything. So you guessed it, traditional Spanish soup is not vegetarian or vegan.

You can transform our authentic Spanish soup recipe into a vegetarian friendly dish by substituting chicken stock with vegetable broth and omitting the cured ham.

We do not suggest making a vegan Spanish Garlic Soup as the egg component really is absolutely necessary.

Add beaten eggs slowly to the hot pot of Spanish Soup broth.
Add beaten eggs slowly to the hot pot of Spanish Soup broth.

Spanish Soup Health Benefits

Our Spanish Soup recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.   

Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.

Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.

This Spanish Soup recipe features soft and tender egg threads and should be served immediately.
This Spanish Soup recipe features soft and tender egg threads and should be served immediately.

Garlic Soup Tips

This healthy homemade Spanish soup recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time soup makers!

  • Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking.
  • We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making soup so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the pot and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt before spooning into bowls.
  • It’s important to cut the garlic into thick slices. Thick garlic slices cook more slowly and don’t burn as quickly.
  • We’ve used chicken stock in this recipe but you could substitue with vegetable broth.
Serve our easy Spanish Soup recipe immediately in large bowls and garnish with crunchy paprika croutons.
Serve our easy Spanish Soup recipe immediately in large bowls and garnish with crunchy paprika croutons.

What To Serve with Spanish Soup

There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then cozying up to a bowl of soup with a fresh salad, gourmet crackers, artisanal cheeses, sourdough bread, savoury muffins and homemade pickles.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our healthy Spanish Soup as an appetizer before serving heartier mains.

After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.

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We love serving garlicky Sopa de Ajo at Spanish-themed dinner parties for a crowd.
We love serving garlicky Sopa de Ajo at Spanish-themed dinner parties for a crowd.

Storing Soup

If you have leftover Spanish Garlic Soup you can store the soup base in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.

We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling. My mother often uses old glass pasta sauce jars to store soup in the freezer.

Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.

Sopa de Ajo is the ultimate Spanish soup recipe to prepare for pork and garlic lovers.
Sopa de Ajo is the ultimate Spanish soup recipe to prepare for pork and garlic lovers.

How To Make Healthy Spanish Soup

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Easy Spanish Garlic Soup

Looking to learn how to make the best Spanish Soup recipe? Our homemade Sopa de Ajo features garlic, cured ham and crunchy paprika croutons.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: garlic soup, Spanish Garlic Soup, Spanish Soup
Servings: 6
Calories: 257kcal

Ingredients

Spanish Soup

  • 1/3 cup Olive oil
  • 15 Garlic cloves sliced
  • 3 oz Spanish ham (cured) cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp Dry Sherry
  • 6 cups Chicken stock
  • 3 Large eggs beaten

Spanish Croutons

  • 1.5 cups Bread sliced into cubes
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Instructions

Homemade Croutons

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Toss bread cubes with olive oil, paprika, onion powder and salt. Spread out in single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and set aside.

Spanish Garlic Soup

  • In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Slowly simmer garlic until fragrant – but not yet browned – approximately 3 minutes.
  • Add the cubed cured ham, sautéing them for a few minutes on medium heat.
  • Add salt and dry sherry and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add smoked paprika and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk eggs then slowly drizzle them into the soup and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Serve Spanish Soup immediately topped with croutons.

Nutrition

Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.4g | Protein: 7.6g | Fat: 21.6g | Saturated Fat: 3.8g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1433mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 1.1g | Sugar: 1.6g | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg

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