Spanish Garlic Saffron Soup with Fried Capers and Romesco Sauce Garnish

February 15, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 2 quarts
Author Notes

Winter and soup go hand and hand, which is why our local community has a fundraiser at the beginning of the year called Sip Some Soup. Competition is friendly but fierce, so one year I created this soup (gallons and gallons) as a counterpoint to all the very traditional entries. Spain has a history of garlic soups so a Romesco sauce seemed appropriate for some piquancy and color. Lots of different takes on Romesco but I ended up using jarred piquillo peppers and sweet Hungarian paprika instead of ancho chilies, primarily for the vivid color I wanted in the garnish. See notes on how to peel so much garlic. —Amber Olson

What You'll Need
  • For the Soup:
  • 1 quart milk of your choice (whole, 2%, or 1%) I used 1%
  • 1 tablespoon each, unsalted butter and olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white part and some of the pale green, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 quart chicken broth, organic brand or homemade
  • pinch of Spanish saffron threads, dissolved in a little warm water
  • 1/2 pound (or more to taste depending on the potency) peeled garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 ounces soft style country bread, like ciabatta or pugliese, crusts removed and soft part cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse grain salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • For the Romesco Sauce and the Fried Capers:
  • 1 thick slice white bread
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/2 pound roma type tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon hungarian sweet paprika
  • 6 ounces jarred roasted piquilla pepper strips, drained well
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup or so extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons brined capers, rinsed well and patted completely dry
  1. For the Soup:
  2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat, being careful that it doesn't boil, while you start to cook the other ingredients.
  3. In a 4-5 quart wide-bottom saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter foams a bit. Add the leeks and shallots and gently saute for 2 minutes. Cover the pan and let this soften for about 5 minutes. Uncover, add the chicken broth and the saffron with its water and heat for a few minutes. Add the garlic and bread cubes and bring to a boil. Stir in the hot milk and reduce heat to low. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
  4. In a food processor, puree the soup while adding the extra virgin olive oil in a drizzle through the feed tube, seasoning with salt and white pepper. The oil will enrich the soup but it can overwhelm it if you use too much. I pureed in batches, tasting and adding salt and a little white pepper to each batch. Put all the soup back in the pot, taste again for seasoning and reheat on low. Garnish with a dollop of Romesco and a sprinkle of fried capers. (Or toast thin slices of french bread and top with the Romesco, still garnishing soup with the capers, and serve bread alongside.)
  5. Note: to peel garlic, separate cloves; blanch in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, then put in ice water bath; peel should loosen easily. Or buy already peeled cloves such as Christopher Ranch brand from California.
  1. For the Romesco Sauce and the Fried Capers:
  2. Romesco sauce: Fry the bread in a bit of oil until lightly golden. Cool a bit. In a food processor, grind the bread, nuts, garlic and pepper flakes to a chunky consistency. Add the tomatoes, paprika, peppers and some salt to taste. Process until very smooth. With machine running, gradually pour in the oil and incorporate well. Add the vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  3. For the capers: pour oil into a small saucepan and heat over medium high. When oil is shimmery and very hot, add the capers and fry, stirring to evenly coat the buds, until the capers are a bit brown and crisp. Strain off oil (save for a salad) and turn out capers to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • monkeymom
  • lastnightsdinner
  • TasteFood
  • Amber Olson
    Amber Olson

8 Reviews

Gale February 15, 2010
This sounded so good, I made it for supper tonight - romesco and all. It was every bit as good as it read. Even w/o cream the texture and taste were as creamy as if it had been included (my arteries are indebted to you). Thanks for developing and posting; I really enjoyed this.
Amber O. February 16, 2010
It's hard to express how touched and gratified I am on reading your comment. I love this community!
monkeymom February 15, 2010
This sounds amazing. So, how did you do in that contest?
Amber O. February 16, 2010
Let's just say that Sip Some Soup is more about how many of your best friends you can get to come down and vote for you than anything else! Many folks came back after tasting it, though, and let me know how much they loved it. And that was good enough for me. Thanks for asking!
lastnightsdinner February 15, 2010
Love these flavors - this sounds fabulous.
Amber O. February 16, 2010
And thank you as well!
TasteFood February 15, 2010
What an explosion of flavors and textures. This sounds sensational!
Amber O. February 16, 2010
Thank you for commenting.