Castilian Bread Soup for Daring Cooks

Our November Daring Cooks’ hostess was Begoña, who writes the beautiful blog, Las recetas de Marichu y las mías. Begoña is from Spain and didn’t want to go with the more common challenges of paella or gazpacho, she wanted to share with us another very popular recipe from Spain that we don’t see as often called Sopa Castellana which is a delicious bread soup!

I am so bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  Took every shortcut in the book on this one, still managing to scrape in only at the last minute.  There are just too many projects going on in my life right now.  On top of which, dealing with a plumbing leak - so no water to the kitchen.  But, still yet, this soup was delicious.  Probably would be even more so if the stock was made from scratch, as in the given recipe.  I used a fine organic brand of mushroom broth instead, and coppa in place of the Serrano ham.  This has besides the bread, lots of garlic.  Yum.

Castilian Bread Soup
Servings: 6
 1 kg (2½ lbs) of veal meat
 1 chicken drumstick
 1 small piece (5 cm cube) (2 inch cube) of Serrano ham
 1 veal bone
 3 leeks
 2 carrots
 1 bunch celery
 1 onion
 handful of chickpeas (1/2 cup)
 2 whole cloves
 1 sweet dry red pepper
 Salt to taste
 10 garlic cloves150 gm (5½ oz) Serrano ham
 2 sweet dry red peppers
 12 slices of day-old bread
 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gms) (½ oz) sweet paprika
 50 ml (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) of extra virgin olive oil
 2.5 liters (10 cups) vegetable, meat or chicken stock
 6 large eggs

Directions for the stock:

Soak the chickpeas in water, the night before making the soup. Fill a big stew pot with water, and add the meat, chicken, ham and bone. Gentle simmer for one hour and a half skimming occasionally.

Clean and cut all the vegetables and the dry pepper, except the onion. Stud the onion with the two cloves add to the pot with the drained chickpeas and the cut vegetables and dry pepper. Add salt to taste.  Simmer for another one and a half to two hours, if needed add water.

After this time, take out the veal, chicken and ham, which can be reserved for another recipe. Strain the stock. Discard the bones.
If you wish you can use the cooked vegetables to make a great soup by adding cream with some potatoes and more water.

Peel the garlic cloves and slice them. Cut the Serrano ham into small cubes. Clean the dry peppers by removing the ribs and membranes and cutting into small pieces. Cut the bread into fine slices.
In a stew pot warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry gently. Make sure that garlic doesn't burn; it should be brown but not burned. Add the ham cubes and the cut and cleaned peppers and stir all the ingredients.

 Add half the bread and continue stirring. Take pan off the heat and add the paprika. Stir till everything is well integrated and return the pan onto a low heat. Add the stock and let it cook about 20 minutes, it must not boil, or otherwise bread will fall apart.

After this, add the rest of bread, taste for salt (remember that the stock is already salted) and wait until the bread softens. Then add the eggs, one for each person, poach the eggs about 3-4 minutes.
For another option, add only the white of eggs to the soup, stir till they make fine threads. Place the yolks into individual serving bowls and ladle the hot soup into the bowls.

A very nice dinner with just salad and a glass of Spanish rose.  Viva!