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 1/4 cup of cloves).
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.
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).
Toasted Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)
2 tbsp butter
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp flour
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 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).