Basque Garlic Soup

This recipe came to me from Food and Wine Magazine – Basque garlic soup – also known as Sopa de Ajo. The recipe is by Marti Buckley, whose book Basque Country, was published in 2018.

I actually found a similar soup in a cookbook I own called The Basque Kitchen, by Gerald Hirigoyen, published in 1999. That recipe actually uses 30 cloves of garlic, so one day I’ll have to make that!

From the cookbook: “In the old days, and perhaps even now, sheepherders would make themselves a bowl of this rustic, sustaining soup in the “wee hours” before heading out to tend their flocks.” Thus the recipe nick name is Wee Hours Soup.

Make sure you have the real Pimentón de la Vera on hand for this soup.

Basque Garlic Soup
printable recipe below

4 ounces high-quality baguette
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 garlic head (about 12 cloves), peeled and finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
8 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place baguette on a baking sheet, and toast in preheated oven until very browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Break or slice bread into 2-inch pieces.

Heat 7 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add bread pieces, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning often to allow bread to toast and soak up oil, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bread, and set aside.

Add garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot. Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in paprika. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil.

Add bread to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain a simmer. Add vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up bread, until flavors meld, about 25 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

When ready to serve, bring soup to a simmer over medium-high. Stirring constantly, slowly pour beaten eggs into hot soup.

If any large pieces of bread remain, cut with kitchen scissors, or break apart with a spoon. (I didn’t bother with this step.)

Serve hot.

This may be the best soup I’ve had in my whole life. Seriously. It’s brothy, has a kick, has a creaminess from the bread and eggs, and the garlic flavor is not as overpowering as you think it might be. Incredible.



By Published On: October 10th, 202276 Comments on Basque Garlic Soup

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Linda Duffin October 10, 2022 at 6:06 AM - Reply

    This sounds awesome, Mimi. Love the flavours.

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 8:12 AM - Reply

      This one of of the best soups I’ve ever eaten.

  2. Arrate Gomez October 10, 2022 at 6:11 AM - Reply

    Lovely to hear someone else talking the beautiful food of my home… sopa de ajo is rarely eaten any more, to our shame! You have inspired me to make it for my family here in London, so they can see how can good it is.

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      That is a shame! You must make it!

  3. Travel Gourmet October 10, 2022 at 7:21 AM - Reply

    That sounds gorgeous, Mimi!

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      It was so so good!

  4. David Scott Allen October 10, 2022 at 7:50 AM - Reply

    Now THAT is one killer soup, Mimi! :)

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      You’d have to make it to see how amazing it is!

  5. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen October 10, 2022 at 8:13 AM - Reply

    This looks magnificent Mimi! I am definitely going to give it a try. Few dishes are as soul satisfying as a hearty bowl of peasant food, and it usually can feel right at home on a fine dining table!

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 11:02 AM - Reply

      To me, often times peasanty food is bland. This is not!

  6. BERNADETTE October 10, 2022 at 8:19 AM - Reply

    Good soup and good for you!

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 9:15 AM - Reply

      It was so amazing.

  7. October 10, 2022 at 9:37 AM - Reply

    I put garlic in everything so I know I would love this soup :)

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      It’s so good, but the predominant flavor is that wonderful smoked paprika!

      • October 10, 2022 at 11:41 AM

        I see you suggest a certain Spanish smoked paprika – not sure what I have as it is in another jar. There is always Amazon, right?

      • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 12:12 PM

        I think it’s critical to use that kind of smoked paprika from Spain, but not necessarily that brand. It smells just like chipotle!

  8. G October 10, 2022 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    I have never had this soup before! It sounds and look so hearty!!! It’s crazy such simple ingredients can make such a gorgeous soup!

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 10:46 AM - Reply

      You’re right! So simple, really, but so flavorful and satisfying. I couldn’t stop eating it!

  9. angiesrecipes October 10, 2022 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    I love garlic! This looks more like bread soup though.

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 1:49 PM - Reply

      It is a bread soup, basically. A brothy one, but with a strong smoked paprika flavor!

  10. Abbe@This is How I Cook October 10, 2022 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    There are so many versions of bread soup, but I am loving this one with garlic!

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 2:34 PM - Reply

      I know very little about bread soup, but just wait till you try this recipe!

  11. Charlie DeSando October 10, 2022 at 6:00 PM - Reply

    Very nice soup, looks tremendous

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 7:01 PM - Reply

      It really is. Amazing.

  12. Ronit October 10, 2022 at 6:35 PM - Reply

    This soup must be so great on a cold day! I’m adding it to my list of wintry foods. :)

    • Chef Mimi October 10, 2022 at 7:00 PM - Reply

      Oh good! It’s shockingly incredible!!!

  13. Tandy I Lavender and Lime October 10, 2022 at 10:57 PM - Reply

    We use the same brand of Pimentón de la Vera. I’ve not made this soup in ages!

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      I’d never heard of it before! But I’m so glad I made it.

  14. Gerlinde October 10, 2022 at 11:24 PM - Reply

    This soup will chase the goblins and vampires away. It looks delicious Mimi.

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      Yes!!! But honestly, the garlic flavor was very mellow, surprisingly.

  15. StefanGourmet October 11, 2022 at 12:59 AM - Reply

    This looks and sounds unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. Although the recipe is called Basque, it has many elements of Spanish recipes like bread soup with vinegar and the Spanish add pimentón to just about anything. But then there is egg as well. Intriguing!

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      That’s why I had to make it. And I’m so glad I did!

  16. Pauline McNee October 11, 2022 at 3:18 AM - Reply

    This soup would be a great start to the day for the shepherds, it looks amazing. I’ll have to source the Pimenton, and give this a try before it gets too hot here. We love soup anytime though. Thanks so much for sharing this one Mimi, I know we will love it.

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:09 AM - Reply

      Oh, you will love it. It is incredible.

  17. 2pots2cook October 11, 2022 at 7:08 AM - Reply

    Sweet Heavens! Have all ingredients! Making it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:09 AM - Reply

      I can’t wait! You will love it.

  18. Healthy World Cuisine October 11, 2022 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    Love the amount of garlic used in this recipe! Love these rustic soups with just a handful of pantry ingredients.

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:09 AM - Reply

      I know! And great ingredients!

  19. Frank Fariello October 11, 2022 at 8:07 AM - Reply

    Wow, this looks amazing! I’m always looking for ways to use stale bread. In fact, I have a half loaf right at the moment and looking for a way to use it before it goes moldy. (As well as the pimentón, which I love.) I’m making this this week.. !

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 8:08 AM - Reply

      Trust me, Frank. It’s not Italian, but you will love it!

  20. terrie gura October 11, 2022 at 11:01 AM - Reply

    Oh, wow! I noticed my mouth was watering when I scrolled the pictures. A cup of this would be a great start for a tapas night party!

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 3:08 PM - Reply

      Oh, it would!!! I really hope you make it.

  21. lulu October 11, 2022 at 1:28 PM - Reply

    So glad you shared this as I love a good garlic soup.

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 3:03 PM - Reply

      And this is so much more than a garlic soup. Can’t wait till you make it!

  22. Ann Coleman October 11, 2022 at 2:07 PM - Reply

    Dang, that sounds good! The problem is, while I love garlic, my husband can’t stand it. So now I know what I can cook the next time he goes out of town……

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 3:03 PM - Reply

      Smart move! Most all of the stuff I cook for the blog gets eaten by myself and an occasional friend! Not my husband.

  23. Valentina October 11, 2022 at 4:23 PM - Reply

    Wow! This sounds amazing. I’m always up for a generous portion of garlic so this recipe is calling to me. YUM! :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi October 11, 2022 at 5:49 PM - Reply

      Believe it or not the soup was way more about the smoked paprika. So good.

  24. Jean October 11, 2022 at 6:36 PM - Reply

    This is my kind of soup and I agree that the smoked paprika makes a difference. The recipes you choose to try are always up my alley.

    • Chef Mimi October 12, 2022 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      Aww thanks. I love trying new recipes.

  25. Debra October 11, 2022 at 7:00 PM - Reply

    What an incredible recipe! I can almost taste it just reading the wonderful ingredients. I love smoked paprika and the more garlic the better, so this is a winner! We are finally enjoying a little soup weather, and this is a must!

  26. David @ Spiced October 12, 2022 at 6:58 AM - Reply

    Well this sure is an interesting recipe, Mimi. And if you call it the best soup you’ve ever eaten, then that says something! The eggs poured in at the end are unique, but I can see how that brings a creamy texture. And it makes perfect sense why this soup would be good for sheepherders as everything in there is easy (more or less) to take with you or find readily out in the fields. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chef Mimi October 12, 2022 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      I hope you decide to make it, because it’s pretty incredible. It’s like a spicy egg drop soup! But not really…

  27. thatskinnychickcanbake October 12, 2022 at 7:51 AM - Reply

    I think I’d Dorie Greenspan’s recipe eons ago! This would be excellent on s chilly fall evening!

    • Chef Mimi October 12, 2022 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      Yes, it really would. It’s incredible and definitely warming!

  28. Katherine | Love In My Oven October 13, 2022 at 10:21 AM - Reply

    A group of friends and I always have a soup party in October, haha. I’m always looking for new soup ideas! This sounds terrific – just the name makes me salivate a little :) Perfect with some crusty bread!

    • Chef Mimi October 13, 2022 at 11:21 AM - Reply

      Absolutely! You will love it.

  29. Sherry M October 14, 2022 at 3:49 AM - Reply

    oh yum i love garlic and i love smoked paprika. Must try 30 cloves of garlic one day!

    • Chef Mimi October 14, 2022 at 7:30 AM - Reply

      I know. It’s very tempting!

  30. October 14, 2022 at 5:33 AM - Reply

    What a delicious looking hearty soup. All that garlic and all that baguette. Lovely!

    • Chef Mimi October 14, 2022 at 7:30 AM - Reply

      And it tasted so so good!

  31. Jeff the Chef October 15, 2022 at 9:13 AM - Reply

    Best soup you’ve had in your whole life – that’s quite a statement! I’m going to have to try it, but I’ll have to get ahold of that paprika first.

    • Chef Mimi October 15, 2022 at 2:31 PM - Reply

      Oh, I really hope you do!

  32. Velva Knapp October 15, 2022 at 5:57 PM - Reply

    Mimi, your Basque garlic soup sounds and looks delicious. What I love… is the simplicity of this dish. Absolutely beautiful.

    • Chef Mimi October 15, 2022 at 7:23 PM - Reply

      Yes! Simple yet so flavorful!

  33. Michelle October 17, 2022 at 7:51 PM - Reply

    What a delicious and cozy soup! Perfect for autumn!

    • Chef Mimi October 17, 2022 at 7:56 PM - Reply

      It’s definitely a fall-winter soup. but I could be forced to eat it in spring and summer!

  34. Ben | Havocinthekitchen October 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM - Reply

    So hearty and cozy – and the flavour must be terrific!

    • Chef Mimi October 18, 2022 at 6:57 PM - Reply

      Oh, it’s a wonderful flavor, if you love smoked paprika!

  35. Raymund October 19, 2022 at 5:49 PM - Reply

    No I need to source out that Pimentón de la Vera, this looks absolutely delicious

    • Chef Mimi October 19, 2022 at 6:49 PM - Reply

      I hope you can find it. It takes just like chipotle!

  36. Thao @ In Good Flavor October 19, 2022 at 8:42 PM - Reply

    I love how garlicky this soup sounds!! The 30 cloves (Wow!) version will certainly keep you healthy! :)

    • Chef Mimi October 20, 2022 at 8:15 AM - Reply


  37. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons October 25, 2022 at 11:50 AM - Reply

    It sounds very sustaining!

    • Chef Mimi October 25, 2022 at 5:20 PM - Reply

      Yes! Definitely!

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