This soup was inspired by versions the Barkers encountered on their travels in Portugal. Often the egg was poached right in the broth as it was brought steaming to the table. Rustic, texturally dramatic and thoroughly satisfying, this soup and a large tumbler of red wine erased the weariness of a hot August day in the Portuguese plains.
6 ounces yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin seed, toasted lightly and crushed in a mortar or ground in a spice mill
1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted lightly and crushed in a mortar or ground in a spice mill
6 large extra ripe tomatoes (about 4 pounds), cored and cut into large chunks (about 1 to 1-1/2 inches)
1 cup white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt, black pepper, and red wine vinegar to taste
2 cups baguette bread, cut into chunks, tossed in olive oil, and lightly toasted
1/2 cup Manchego cheese, shaved with a potato peeler
8 poached eggs
1-1/2 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1. Cook the onion in the olive until softened and golden. Add the garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and ground spices. Cook 2 minutes. Add 2/3 of the tomatoes and cook five minutes. Add the wine and stock, bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and pass through a food mill or strain through a sieve, pressing the solids.
2. Warm the soup over medium heat; season with salt and pepper, adjust the consistency with stock, and adjust the acidity with red wine vinegar. Divide the remaining tomatoes, the bread chunks, and the Manchego cheese between 8 flat, shallow soup bowls. Place a poached egg in the center of each bowl.
3. Stir the cilantro into the soup and then ladle hot soup over the eggs into the bowls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a few cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
Note: To poach the eggs, heat 2 quarts of water with 1/2 cup white vinegar. Crack each egg and gently slip the white and yolk into barely simmering water; poach until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, about 2 minutes. Transfer eggs to service bowls as they are cooked.
Reprinted from Not Afraid of Flavor: Recipes from Magnolia Grill, with the permission of UNC Press.