Indulged in too much rich food lately? This is the perfect “hangover soup”!
Aïgo Bouido (or Boulido) means “boiled water” in Provençal. It is better known as “Provençal garlic soup,” and although the base of the soup is boiled water, it’s an incredibly flavorful concoction. The original version of this soup is simply water boiled with a few garlic cloves, bay leaves and fresh sage. It’s served with a slice of bread and grated cheese.
The magic ingredient: mellow, roasted garlic
My version of Aïgo Bouido is definitely a bit more substantial. Not only is the soup cooked with lots of fresh garlic (which turns mellow and sweet as it cooks!), but a whole head of garlic is roasted and then puréed with the soup. I also infuse the soup with loads of fresh herbs, which bring their wonderful aromatics to the otherwise monochromatic broth.
Aïgo bouido sauvo la vido (“Boiled water saves your life”), the popular Provençal folk saying goes – this soup is believed to be a powerful antidote to gastronomic excesses. After tasting it, one can certainly understand where the proverb came from. The soup is delicately aromatic and incredibly light, with no hint of richness. It soothes the stomach with every spoonful… But why wait for an excess? Go ahead and treat your stomach anyway, and indulge in a bowlful!
Food & wine pairing: Sonoma, Sauvignon Blanc with Aïgo Bouido
Choosing a wine for this delicate soup is definitely a challenge. A medium-bodied white with herbaceous notes and mellow acidity is ideal. Sauvignon Blanc comes to mind, of course, but it must be from a warmer region so it’s not too crisp. Sonoma and Napa Valley in California offer delicious Sauvignon Blancs – rich, with a soft mouthfeel and grassy notes – that work perfectly with the flavorful but light garlic soup.
Aïgo Bouido (Provençal garlic soup)
serves 4 to 6
active time: 20 min
For the roasted garlic
- 1 large head of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
For the soup
- 6 cups spring water
- 1 1/4 lbs (565 g) Yukon Gold potatoes – peeled and cut in 1/2″ cubes
- 2 large heads of garlic – cloves skinned and left whole
- 1 bouquet garni – 2 rosemary sprigs, 2 sage sprigs, 12 thyme sprigs, 6 parsley sprigs and 4 bay leaves tied tightly with kitchen string (cooking tip: how to store fresh herbs)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- aged Gruyère – very finely grated, as garnish
- extra virgin olive oil as garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 ºF (190 ºF).
- Step 1: To roast the garlic – Peel the white papery skin off the garlic, but keep the head whole. Rub with the olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cloves are tender and the skins are golden. Remove from foil and let cool. Using a serrated knife, cut the garlic head in half crosswise and squeeze the garlic out of the cloves. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
- Step 2: Place the water, potato cubes, garlic, bouquet garni, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once the soup has reached a full boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to medium/medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. Remove the bouquet garni and discard. Add the roasted garlic to the soup and purée the soup with a stick blender until very smooth. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with a little finely grated gruyère and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.