One of the most vivid memories of my childhood is that of my grandmother, Miren, making berakatz zopa (garlic soup) for my grandfather, Angel. He had an exquisite palate – fowl, baby eels, barnacles, lobster… A true pastry chef who had been cooking since the age of 14. He was also a man who appreciated simplicity and the art of doing things orderly and well. There was such discipline to his work yet he appreciated certain chaos outside of it, which I find very inspiring in my life right now.
But I digress.
My grandfather also had a very sensitive digestive system and suffered from ulcers on and off all his adult life. I remember him bent over and looking frail with obvious pain on his face. All he ever asked for during those episodes was garlic soup. It must have some miracle properties because he always seemed to feel better after ingesting it. My grandmother’s recipe was as simple as can be. Olive oil, garlic, pimiento choricero, bread, salt and water. As simple as it gets. Eggs were seldom added. I think of her soup’s healing properties often because that is such a reminder of how food is comfort, but also health and vitality.
So if you ever need a little soup that takes less than 30 minutes to make, give this one a try. You might be surprised.
And then came the ramps, also known as wild garlic or wild leek. I got them at the farmer’s market from Foraged and Found. If you have never tried them, they grow wild as their name indicates and have a strong garlic-onion flavor. They don’t seem to be as abundant on the West coast as in the East but they have been more available as of late.
I have been adding them to so many things.
A tart similar to this,
Tortilla with lots of ramps,
Roasted with sea salt,
Scrambled into eggs,
In this soup in lieu of peas.
Now it would be even more amazing if I had foraged them myself. And I circle back to my grandfather as the master forager that he was. Ramps in soup. He would have loved.
Ramp soup with poached eggs
Ramps can be very dirty so make sure you wash them well. They have a very slimy film around them. Pull out that film, cut off the root tops and wash well under cold water.
This is a very simple soup and a lot of the flavor is in the stock you use, so make sure it’s really good whether homemade or store-bought.
1 quart (1 liter) chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
6 ounces (185 g) ramps, washed and thinly sliced (separate the white stems from the green leaves)
1 tablespoon Spanish pimentón (paprika)
1 slice of stale gluten-free bread, crumbled (you could always toast it slightly to make it drier)
Heat the stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Hold it at low temperature so it’s warm when you are ready to add it to the soup.
Heat a cast-iton pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the ramp stems. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until translucent but do not brown. Add the pimentón and the bread and stir until all flavors are incorporated. Add the stock and bring liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the ramp greens, stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if needed (depends on how salty your stock is).
To cook the eggs, you can cook them all at once in the pot or you can cook them in a smaller pan one portion at a time (which I prefer to do so it looks nicer). Ladle a serving of soup into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat so the soup is simmering. Crack one egg into the soup and let it slowly cook in the broth for 2 to 3 minutes until the white is set but yolk is still runny. Add a pinch of salt on top of the egg and serve immediately.