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Sopa de Ajo (Spicy Bread and Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs)
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Sopa de Ajo (Spicy Bread and Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs)
From Terra: Cooking from the Heart of the Napa Valley (Canada, UK), by Hiro Sone & Lissa Doumani.

Late one night when we came home tired and hungry from the restaurant, Hiro disappeared into the kitchen, and ten minutes later, he emerged with this most amazing soup. It was as if he had whipped it up out of nothing. It's rich and garlicky and you probably have everything to make it in your kitchen right now. If you don't love garlic as much as we do, just use a little less. We finish the soup with the egg in small sauté pans, but you can use any ovenproof bowl, soup crock, or small soufflé dish. At the table, tell everybody to stir the egg right into the soup to enrich it.

Ingredients:

Croutons:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Instructions:

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 350'°F (175°C). Combine the olive oil and garlic in a bowl, add the diced bread, and toss until well coated. Transfer to a baking sheet pan and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Return the croutons to the bowl, sprinkle with the paprika, and toss well.

To make the soup, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the paprika and cayenne so they do not burn and taste bitter. Immediately add the stock and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

To serve, preheat the oven to 500'°F (260°C). Add the croutons to the soup and bring to a boil, shaking the pan gently so that all the croutons are moistened. Carefully place 4 hot ovenproof serving bowls on a baking sheet pan. Divide the soup among the 4 bowls. Break an egg into the center of each dish. Gently spoon a tablespoon of the soup over each egg. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the white of the egg turns opaque but the yolk is still runny. Remove from the oven, place on a plate, and sprinkle with the chives.

Yield: Serves 4

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