Garlic Soup

My first bowl of garlic soup was at the Heald Street Café in San Francisco. My version, which tastes as close as I can get to that one, is based on Richard Olney’s, the American cookery writer who lived in southern France for most of his life. His book Lulu’s Provencal Table: The Exuberant Food and Wine from the Domaine Tempier Vineyard is a must-have for all who love vibrant seasonal cooking.

Garlic soup is especially fine if you have a tickle in your throat or a cold coming on. I’m making it with the Creston garlic my pals Juanita and Don bring back every year — so good.


  • 4 ½ c water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 12-16 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese, more for grating over
  • fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil, more to drizzle over
  • day-old crusty bread

Bring water, bay leaf, sage, thyme, garlic and salt to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes. Strain, and remove the bay and sage leaves. Return to the saucepan, off the heat. Reserve.

Whisk the egg, egg yolks, cheese, and pepper together in a bowl until creamy. A fork works best. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating all the time, then whisk in a large ladleful of garlic broth.* When fully emulsified, slowly stir the egg mixture into the garlic broth and whisk continuously over low heat until it thickens slightly. Taste for season in. Place a handful of torn bread chunks into the bottom of each bowl and pour the soup over. Drizzle with oil, add more cheese if you like and enjoy.

Makes about 4 cups of soup.

* When adding raw egg to a hot mixture remember:

  • Warm or hot is good, boiling is not.
  • Always add some of the warm mixture to the egg mixture to allow it to acclimatize.
  • Whisk your head off; for a few minutes you cannot leave the stove.
  • All this whisking, whisking will result in a creamy-textured, delicious mélange. It’s well worth it. If you blow it and end up with egg drop soup, try again, you’ll learn the technique.