This simple garlic soup recipe delivers thrifty nourishment and comfort

Monastic Garlic Soup

Active time:20 mins

Total time:1 hour 20 mins


Active time:20 mins

Total time:1 hour 20 mins


This light, garlicky soup is popular in monasteries and convents in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, writes Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette in his best-selling 1996 cookbook, “Twelve Months of Monastery Soups.”

Because of its monastic origins, this recipe is thrifty, especially if made with water, but we recommend Brother Victor’s note to enrich it by using vegetable or chicken broth, and by adding more wine to taste. The original recipe calls for using your oil of choice, but we suggest olive oil, for richer flavor.

Storage: Refrigerated leftover soup for up to 5 days.

NOTES: 16 garlic cloves, about 1 head, should produce a scant 1/2 cup of minced garlic.

If you prefer, you can substitute 6 tablespoons of aquafaba for the egg whites or buy pasteurized egg whites.

To peel a whole head of garlic, remove the papery outer skin and separate the cloves. Place the cloves in a large, clean, dry jar with a lid (such as an empty pickle jar) — or put the cloves in a metal bowl, invert a bowl of equal size over the top and hold the bowls together where the rims meet . Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. If any still have skins, repeat the process with those. You still may have to then peel a few, but most should shake loose from their skins. This method works best with slightly older, drier heads of garlic. For fresher or stubborn garlic, you may have to snip off the end of each clove where it was attached at the root.

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  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16 large cloves garlic, finely grated, pressed or minced (see NOTES)
  • 6 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-bodied white wine, such as chardonnay, plus more to taste
  • fine salt
  • ground nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, separated (see NOTES)
  • 6 slices whole wheat bread

In a large, tall pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water or stock, wine, and a pinch each of salt and nutmeg, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, so that the liquid is at a simmer, cover the pot and continue to cook for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot soup into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly to warm the yolks. Add the yolk-soup mixture to the pot, stirring continuously, until blended, about 1 minute. Taste, and season with more salt and/or nutmeg, if desired. Continue simmering another 15 minutes with the pot covered.

When ready to serve, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment — or in a large bowl and using a handheld mixer — beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. To test, pull your whisk up to create a peak, topped with a soft curl. (Alternatively, you could beat the egg whites with a whisk.)

Increase the heat under the soup to medium-high and bring to a boil. Place a slice of bread in each of the soup bowls. Evenly divide the beaten egg whites, about 1/2 cup, over the bread, then ladle a generous 1 cup of hot soup on top of each. Serve immediately.

Per serving (generous 1 cup soup, 1/2 cup egg whites and 1 slice of bread)

Calories: 224; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 108 mg; Sodium: 218mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; sugar: 2 g; Protein: 7 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Twelve Months of Monastery Soups” by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette (Triumph Books, 1996).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to [email protected].

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