One of the questions I'm sure all food bloggers get is "when did you get so obsessed with food?". In my case, the answer is pretty simple... I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with food.
In fact, family folklore has it that I entered the world in the same way that I've lived ever since - thinking of my next meal. My mother once joked that they might have called me Born With Mouth Open if I'd been born in a different time and culture (to which I replied that she'd have been called Voice Like Thunderclap, being the sweet, obedient child that I am).
I started helping out in the kitchen as soon as I was tall enough to reach the counter, and was making entire meals on my own as soon as I could be trusted not to burn the house down.
My mother, besides having a very audible voice, also believed in making sure my sister and I knew our way around an oven, and was more than happy to encourage my experiments (even if they did occasionally include some burnt cookies or a spice cake made with ¼ cup of cloves).
Rewinding Through my Recipe Collection
As soon as I started cooking on my own, I also started clipping out recipes anywhere I happened to find them... from magazines, newspapers, food packages, and displays at the grocery store.
What started with a few simple recipes from my Owl and World magazines soon turned into several file folders bursting at the seams with recipes from all sorts of places (including a trove of slightly chopped-up but otherwise mint-condition 1970s Gourmet mags found in my high school art room... poached salmon in aspic, anyone?).
That collection, with nearly 20 years' worth of clippings, has followed me through a whopping 11 moves, along with my stacks of vintage cookbooks and pamphlets. It's a bit of an obsession, to say the least.
But where's the fun in sitting on this trove of culinary history if I don't share, right? Which is why I'm going to start highlighting recipes from my collection on an occasional basis - mostly the good, but with a little bit of the bad and the ugly just for the hell of it.
My First Pick - Toasted Garlic Soup
This first recipe is for Toasted Garlic Soup, which I painstakingly copied into a notebook of favourite recipes in 1995 after it got rave reviews from my family.
The original source of the recipe has been lost to the mists of time, but looks to me like what you’d get if a traditional Spanish sopa de ajo decided to have babies with French Onion Soup. Regardless of its origins, it’s basically a simple peasant soup that’s perfect for a winter’s day – flavourful and filling, with no complicated techniques or ingredients.
For the most part, I've left this recipe unchanged from the original I copied down nearly 15 years ago, except for a few small changes to update it to my current tastes.
How I Updated the Recipe
First off, I used a chicken broth base instead of the beef stock in the original, since sopa de ajo is usually made with a lighter broth.
I also added a little white wine for an extra layer of flavour, and boosted the bad-breath content using a chive-and-onion Gloucester for the topping instead of Swiss cheese (though a Manchego would probably be more authentic).
The recipe can also be easily adapted for vegetarians by using a mild-flavoured vegetable broth instead (there are a few mock chicken broths out there that would be perfect here).
This hearty peasant soup is a delicious antidote to winter weather. A toasty topping of chive-and-onion cheese is the perfect complement to the toasted garlic flavour of the soup, but you can also use a sharp crumbly cheddar if that's what you've got on hand.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp flour
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp finely minced parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 6 slices slightly stale crusty bread
- 1 cup crumbled chive-and-onion Gloucester cheese
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic and flour, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in stock and wine. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. Slowly whisk in the beaten eggs, stirring briskly to ensure the eggs break up into small threads. Add parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Distribute the soup between 6 ovenproof soup bowls arranged on a baking sheet. Lay a slice of bread on each bowl, then top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Place under a hot broiler and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Serve bubbling hot with some extra bread for dunking (and plenty of breath mints for dessert).
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Category: Soups
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Spanish