I’ve become obsessed with Garlic and Saffron Soup. Do you know this? I think I first tried it at our gastro-local, The Canton Arms. It’s a garlicky, golden-coloured soup, flavoured with saffron, and thickened with bread- Mrs David would approve. The Canton Arms version had a poached egg floating on top. Absolutely delicious. One of those Spanish peasanty dishes, which I think originated in Castile.
As usual, there are various recipes out there, which are easily replicated at home. I came up with this version, and was quite pleased with the result, although you may find your own way of improving it:
Sweat three large heads of garlic (skins still on) in butter, with onion, celery and a bayleaf, until soft. About 15 minutes. Add a dash of a decent dry Sherry, a decent pinch of saffron threads (previously soaked in warm water) and some chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, adding a slice of bread, torn up into small chunks. Simmer for a bit, so that the bread is cooked. Remove the bayleaf, and liquidise the whole lot in your Magimix. Strain through a sieve, and put back into a clean pan.
Add a splash of double cream (to enrich) and check the seasoning, adding sea salt and white pepper if you think it needs it (which I am sure it will). Check the consistancy. If it’s too thick, you can always add a touch of milk. If it’s too thin, you can add some more cream- and reduce.
Now for the poached egg bit. Probably easiest if you poach an egg in a separate pan. Thanks to Richard Olney, I’ve finally mastered the art of cooking the perfect poached egg. It’s really simple. You get a shallow pan, fill it with water, and bring it to the boil. You then crack a fresh egg directly into the hot water. If it’s fresh enough, it won’t spread out everywhere. Turn off the heat, and let the egg cook in the hot water with the lid of the pan on. After a minute or so, you will find that you have a perfect poached egg, especially if you trim it to get a neater effect. That’s it. No swirling the water around and around. No salt. No vinegar.
Serve the soup with the poached egg floating on the top. If you must, sprinkle a tiny bit of Cayenne Pepper on the top. And there’s my Spanish Saffron & Garlic Soup. I love that metallic (petroleoum?) taste of the saffron and the deep yellow colour of the soup. Simple, yet deeply satisfying. There’s that wonderful moment when your spoon cuts into the soft poached egg, and the runny yolk spills out into the soup. Egg and Saffron is a lovely combination.