So, who else over-indulged last weekend? (everybody raise your hands!) Yep, Thanksgiving was just a few days ago in Canada, and I am sure we’re all in need of some cleansing concoctions… But that doesn’t mean we have to ditch comforting food, right? Stews, soups and one-bowl meals alike are simply perfect to sooth both our souls and tight stomachs – just like this delicate Garlic Sage Cure-All Soup.
Known in Provencal French as “Aigo Boulido” (translating as “boiled water”), this Garlic and Sage Cure-All Soup was once a grandmother’s remedy for convalescents and birthing mothers. Today, it is still widely consumed in the South of France to ward off winter ills, or as a detox soup after days of feasting (and a good cure for hangovers too!).
This soup, although simple, embodies some of the best of what beautiful Provence has to offer.
Indeed, the sun-kissed French Mediterranean coast and Pyrenees Mountains grow garlic that is packed with Vitamin C – and it is no secret that garlic has been a signature ingredient of French cuisine for generations. Sage, bay leaves and other drying herbs (thyme, rosemary … all known as “Herbes de Provence”) are grown abundantly in Provence, and are the shining stars in most of the regional dishes.
“Because the garlic is boiled, its after-effects are at a minimum, and its flavor becomes exquisite, aromatic and almot undefinable.” (Julia child)
There are two versions of this Garlic Sage Cure-All Soup. The first one, the “light” version, consists of sage, bay leaves and garlic cloves infused in boiling water. The consommé is then filtered and sipped pure, with a drizzle of olive oil. The delicate mix of herbaceous flavors (from the herbs) and fruity notes (from the olive oil) tastes both detoxifying and soothing (and surprisingly, satisfying too!).
The second version, less “light”, adds egg yolk into the broth and is usually served with a piece of bread on top. Oddly, stirring the egg yolk into the broth turns it into a luscious creamy soup. It also adds a healthy dose of protein – and with a slice of fresh bread, you have yourself a delicious, quick meal.
This recipe is adapted from the book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child. ( Note: Julia Child’s recipe also call for thyme and parsley – but I have never seen them in any “authentic” French recipes of the aigo boulido, so I decided to remove them).
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram.
Garlic sage cure-all soup from ProvencePrint This
16 garlic cloves
2 qt water (8 cups)
1 tsp Salt
1 pinch of ground pepper
12 Sage leaves
6 Bay leaves
3 tbsp Olive oil
6 egg yolks
6 slices of fresh or toasted white bread
Drop garlic cloves in boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Drain, run cold water over them and peel.
Place the garlic, sage and bay leaves in water, in a saucepan, and boil slowly for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. After 30 minutes, scoop out the garlic and herbs or filter the broth through a mesh. (serve as is, for the light version)
Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl for a minute or until they are thick and sticky. Drop by drop, beat in the olive oil for making a mayonnaise.
Just before serving, beat in the egg mixture into the hot soup, and beat until the soup turns creamy. Serve immediately, accompanied by a slice of bread.