Richard Olney's Garlic Soup

Richard Olney's Garlic Soup Recipe

I've worked my way through a stack of garlic soup recipes over the years. Some clipped from magazines or torn from newspapers, others scribbled in shorthand on scraps of paper. It is a delicious realm of soups, and there have been plenty of notable bowls amongst them. To that extent, I thought I'd share the one I love most. It's from Richard Olney's classic, The French Menu Cookbook. Creamy and full-bodied without the use of cream, it is made by simmering a dozen or so cloves of garlic in water with a few herbs, then thickening it with a mixture of egg and shredded cheese. It's hard to beat a big ladleful poured over crusty, day-old walnut baguette with a finishing slick of olive oil.

Garlic Soup Recipe

The garlic mellows as it simmers and works itself into something round and mild - not at all harsh or aggressive in flavor or fragrance. It's a restorative soup, one that I make when I want something simple and direct, but with more body than a clear, brothy soup or consommé.

Garlic Soup Recipe

And, it's worth noting, if you've ever made ice cream from scratch, you should have no trouble here. The technique is quite similar.

Richard Olney's Garlic Soup Recipe

The following recipe reflects how I make this soup, with my notes/words. The original recipe often calls for a range of a particular ingredient, for example, 10 - 15 cloves of garlic, or healthy pinch of thyme....I decided to included the amounts I use when I make it.

1 quart (4 cups) water
1 bay leaf
2 sage leaves
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
a dozen medium cloves of garlic, smashed peeled, and chopped
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Binding pommade:
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

day-old crusty bread & more olive oil to drizzle

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, garlic, and salt. Heat to a gentle boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain into a bowl, remove the bay and sage leaves from the strainer, and return the broth and garlic back to the saucepan, off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.

With a fork, whisk the egg, egg yolks, cheese, and pepper together in a bowl until creamy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating all the time, then add (slowly! slowly!), continuing to whisk, a large ladleful of the broth. Stir the contents of the bowl into the garlic broth and whisk it continuously over low-medium heat until it thickens slightly. Olney states, "just long enough to be no longer watery." I usually let it go a wee-bit beyond that - until it is the consistency of half-and-half or cream. Place a handful of torn bread chunks into the bottom of each bowl and pour the soup over the bread. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and serve immediately.

Makes about 4 cups of soup.

This recipe was adapted from The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney. Originally published in 1970, this edition was republished by Ten Speed Press in 2002.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 45 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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This looks so good! I've always been intrigued by garlic soup recipes but never tried any, maybe because my boyfriend routinely accuses me of being "obsessed with garlic". Your description of this being round and mild might convince him, though!


This soup looks so divinely comforting for chilly fall evenings!


I made a garlic soup recipe from Julia C.'s cookbook not too long ago and was worried with the results until the egg yolk concoction was added..."binding pommade" as you put it. Then everything came together.

I can't wait to try this one!


Garlic is such a healthy food, and roasted with a little bit olive oil it releases a beautiful taste. Thanks for the one more way of consuming it.

Greetings from The Kitchen of Oz.

Ozhan Ozturk

This looks delicious and very unique. I have tried the garlic soup recipe over at Epicurious which contains 40+ cloves of garlic but, somehow, in the soup, it doesn't feel overpowering at all. This sounds a bit more light so I can't wait to try it!


this soup is very interesting! I like the garlic taste and the idea to use it in this way is really wonderful


mmm... and i just happen to have all these ingredients in my kitchen! sweet serendipity!

one question - i notice that a lot of your recipes have chopped garlic rather than crushed. is there any reason for this apart from just personal style?


Thanks for the recipe - I've never tried garlic soup before but it sounds great!

Simply Life

For those "stuck" with the metric system: 1 quart [US, liquid] = 0.946 litre, 1 cup = +- 227 gram

I love your site and your recipes (and bought your book!) but this affection for quaint measurements still baffles me every time I visit.

Erwin Heiser

This soup sounds simply fabulous. I cannot wait to try the recipe (and it will certainly help me put a dent in the SIX POUNDS of garlic that I was given this week....)


mmm... looks fantastic! Can't wait to make it. :)

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

Perfect ... it's garlic season., (I always want to plant more, more, more). I also am very fond of the bowl in your photograph.
All the best,

The Gardener's Eden

This looks amazing. Cream based soups don't always cooperate with me, so my garlic soup options are limited. I'm really excited to try this!


Now won't that just get the immune system pumping out some goodness into this cold and flu season.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

Okay, I'm going to make the soup. I'd like to mention how lovely the photos are in this post. I love photos of the details and these tell the story beautifully.

Roberta Boyle

This is one of Phoebe's all-time favorite comfort foods. Her mom used to make a version of homemade garlic soup when she was a kid, and now it's all she craves when she's feeling under the weather.


my Spanish mother-in-law makes a similar soup, but instead of using the eggs for a "binding pommade" she just drops them in to boil, egg-drop style. it's a delicious and convenient way to get a similar result. this version looks absolutely lovely!


Well, I had no idea what to make for dinner or what I was even hungry for. Now I know the answer to both. Thank you:-).

Thy Hand

Dear Heidi, this sounds delicious, but mostly I am here to thank you, because for the last few days I have been following your blog, but not only that. Actually, I have decided to change the way me and my family eat. I have made some of your recipes and I must say that they are not only delicious, but my mood changed, my energy levels are higher, I feel happy and light. For years now I have a constipation problem, bloathing, feeling heavy. It is gone! I even sleep better!!!! Thank you so much for changing my life. All best!

HS: Thanks for the nice comment doroula! It's the sort of note that really makes my day.



I love the site. Love it. I just made garlic soup with shrimp a la Mark Bittman last night, but now I'll have to try this, it looks more complex in terms of flavor and texture.

Also, are you still involved with Kiva? If so, you should read this. I stumbled across it today and thought of your Kiva team. Keep up the great work!

HS: (updated 10/16 - Thanks again for the link David, I was happy to read Kiva CEO Matt Flannery's response. I though I'd post it for those of you who are interested.


Just beautiful! Can't wait to make this for my dad...a true garlic lover!

The Diary of an Epic Failure

Yum; this recipe looks delicious; thank you for this wonderful idea...this is the perfect soup to make on a chilly evening!

The Healthy Apple

So making this tonight!!! I can wait! Thank you Heidi!!!! Your site is fabulous!


Wowsa. This looks like *the* garlic soup recipe. I was going to make the sweet potato, kale and ginger soup again because I liked it SO much, but this looks too good not to make first.
And what could be better for a cold then a wack of garlic?

Lucy T.

Thanks Heidi!

I'll be making this tonight with duck eggs and also make some kale chips! good alternative to soups to have while sick, i've been having a lot of broth lately...


...this i will make in the near future as the evenings begin to cool.

few questions: also, interested in your answer to taghag's inquiry - chopped vs. pressed garlic? fine grain salt - what exactly works here? or, do you mean simply not to use a coarse/rock type? and, are you a fan of celtic salt? thx!

HS: Hi Tav, I chop garlic sometimes, crush it others - depending on what I'm after. Sometimes I crush it with the flat side of my knife, and then work it into a paste with a bit of salt. It really just depends. As far as salt goes - I use fine grain salt quite a lot as I'm cooking or in baked goods or in casseroles and that sort of thing. When I want an even dispersal of the tiniest grains of salt. But, I often use flakier or chunkier salts as finishing salts. I have an entire box of salts, some from places I've traveled, others I've ordered because they sound interesting.


question - is this an eggy soup? can you taste the eggs?


Hi, Heidi,
Thanks for all the wonderful recipes. Question for this one...we are not fans of thyme or sage...would anything else work well?


My mother makes the most amazing garlic soup and when I was growing up it definitely was my go to sick day soup in place of the classic chicken noodle. She is lactose intolerant, so her version uses no cream either and no cheese. I'm sure this version is incredibly decadent and delicious, but I think I will always be drawn to the simple version from my childhood.

Thank you for spotlighting this family favorite!


Is this not a also a way of making Stracciatella soup, which is a classic Italian soup - sometimes called 'egg drop soup'. I thought any soup where the main contents was an egg/cheese mixture whisked in, would be catagorized as that type of soup. Just curious. Very tasty though!


I've never made anything with a binding pomade but mmmmm boy does this look good! I heart thyme and garlic together.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

I am going to make this soup, perhaps multiple times, instead of getting a flu shot this year!


I can't wait to try this!


This soup should be renamed yummy fragrant coziness in a bowl!
I am new to your site and loving it! Your pictures really communicate your relationship to food. Simple and pure and with so much appreciation.

Nora Lisman

Bless you. This is *exactly* what I need today. If garlic soup doesn't kick this cold in the @ssets, I don't know what will!


Great recipe...
but AMAZING bowl. Where did you find that antique beauty?!

HS: Hi Michelle, most of the mis-matched bowls I use (day-to-day and in my pictures) I've found at flea markets, garage sales, and that sort of thing.


This looks delicious!

Jessica @ Demeter Made

Yummy! I was just thinking about Garlic Soup today; how about that? Great minds think alike lol. And btw I have been trying to take pictures of my cooking, but it's not as good as yours. What do you use? Do you have an SLR? I just have a Kodak Easy Share. Anyway thanks for another great recipe!

HS: Hi Emily, if you click on the photography tab up above, I write a bit about my cameras and whatnot.


Garlic soup! I love your comment about the similarity to making ice cream (hmm...I can't help but wonder!).


Heidi, Thank you! I love your food philosophy, recipes, and writing style.

Before I could even get the Buttermilk Summer Squash soup to the table last night, the heat and humidity in Houston returned! Fall weather false alarm I suppose. (We happily sweated it out, and the soup was delicious paired with the Big Sur Hide Bread.)

The Garlic Soup goes on the short list once soup weather returns!


My mom made "Garlic Soup". She was a Spaniard. Her soup had vinegar and home made stale bread broken into pieces and cook in the broth. All I can remember was absolutely delicious. There is a spanish name for it but...I do not know how to spell it...


WONDERFUL use of garlic!


About 5 years ago you posted about Nancy Silverton's graham cracker recipe. Now I realize that is a long time ago, but I am still going to ask. I am doing a table for a charity table setting luncheon and my theme is 'vintage school'. I will serve milk in bottles with paper straws and graham crackers as a get to know each other snack. Do I need to make these the morning of the luncheon or can I make them the day before with excellent results. Thank you,

HS: Wow Amber, it has been a long, long time since I've baked a batch of those. I think Deb over at Smitten Kitchen as done a version recently. My guess would be that you could bake them, let them cool, and then place them in an air-tight container, with decent results. But quite frankly, nothing can beat a cookie baked off the same day. :)


Oh, this is on the list for the fall. Garlic is a fave, so this would be great to try. A dozen garlic cloves? Is that enough? :)

Congrats on your Foodbuzz nom as well!

The Duo Dishes

Hi all, I'm heading up to Napa for a few hours, but I'll get to your questions either later tonight or in the morning, promise! -h


I've been making the Gourmet (RIP, alas!) Cookbook version of this aquacotta for years and it's one of my favorites in cool weather or on sick days. Something from almost nothing.


WOW. I just made this. I didn't have any thyme so I added in a rosemary leaf, is't incredible but I can certainly see why the Thyme would taste even better. As for the creamy part...I had no idea using eggs in soup would have this creamy affect. My soup was too salty for the amount of water. I'm so stoked to have learned about this and can't wait to impress my friends.

Mary Hining

This soup looks terrific. I've been down with a cold lately and wanted garlic soup so went to my favorite recipe at It has really nice photos and an exceptionally great way to roast the garlic heads that go into the soup. I've used the garlic roasting technique for many other things, too, such as for topping crostini.


Made this tonight and it is just delicious!!! Had everything on hand and it was the perfect remedy for my husband's flu. Thanks for this and all of your amazing recipes.


Your garlic soup sounds delicious - my favorite is a potato/garlic combo from Sweet Basil, a little Italian place in Massachusetts. We have the recipe on our site,!
Happy Soup-ing!

Sarah-Two Blue Lemons

I have been making a basic, traditional garlic soup - aigo boulido as they say in Provence. I've poached eggs in the broth, had it plain, thrown in brown rice or pasta, simmered veggies in it. Anyway I make it, it's deeply satisfying.

I have read so many comments about the garlic helping to keep them well or helping them heal and the same has been true for me.

Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

This one is definitely getting made. I can't wait to taste it, sounds absolutely yummy.


This was one of the most delicious easy things I've made in awhile. I've been feeling a little under the weather so this was perfect. This might be my sick-person soup of this fall and winter. Thanks!


hey heidi....that garlic soup sounds sounds like comfort our family we have a yearning for "rasam"..a watery soup made from tomatoes and spices like cumin and pepper ..whenever anyone is a nice taste and is totally comforting...your soup reminded me of that..:)
Im gonna try that today...wonderful..thanks!

vijayalakshmi sisodia

Wow! This looks great. I'm planning a diiner party for my husband's birthday and think this will make a great soup course and will go well with the braised beef braciole stuffed with basil and fresh mozzarella I'm making for the main course.

Faithful Foodie

I made this soup last night. It was delicious and very rich. I used a can of vegetable broth and water because I thought plain water would be too dull. The cheese did not incorporate into the soup and it did not become creamy like half-and-half, but it was still fantastic. Thank you for a wonderful fall meal!


Oh, someone above asked if you could taste the eggs in this. No, you cannot. And the garlic flavor is very mild and mellow. It does have a rich, almost "French" flavor. Almost like onion soup.


Just found your blog and I LOVE it. This soup lokos amazing. I love garlic so much.

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is

Looks excellent - I love, love, love garlic and plan to try this recipe out on friends this weekend. Thanks for the recipe!


I love garlic!!! This soup sounds fantastic....My vegetarian husband would love this dish : ) Thanks for the recipe.


I made this last night and it was DELICIOUS. I wish I'd doubled the recipe. In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I added some shredded jamon iberico at the end and it truly put it over the top (I thought bacon might overpower) but I tried it before and it was equally addictive. Even my boyfriend--who normally hates it when I make soup for dinner because it doesn't fill him up--couldn't get enough of this. Thanks, Heidi!

baguette about it

I went to your site after going to the dentist. I have to have my wisdom teeth pulled on in two weeks. I am making this soup to get me through the painful days.

I also recently discovered I am gluten sensitive, so in lieu of bread, I will pour a big ladle over mashed golden potatoes

Brenda @ Healthy Butterfly

A comment for MaryB above: I think the garlic soup you're thinking of is 'sopa castellana'. I make it a lot in winter, as it's very easy and quick.


This sounds so wonderful. Creamy and flavorful, and good to sop up with a hearty bread. I love, also, that this is an excuse to use tons of garlic and really highlight it. Thanks for sharing.

Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish

I made this last night for my extended family of six with a side of roasted acorn squash. It was absolute perfection. I'm eating it again for lunch as we speak and just had to thank you for such a great recipe. This is going in my flu-season repetoire for sure!


Comment to self recently while cooking: "I think I've turned into a french cook in spite of myself" (I was born in Costa Rica to Nicaraguan and Swiss parents!)---this soup certainly proves the point... Can't wait to try a new technique with now familiar and beloved flavors. Heidi: YOU ROCK!

Karen Schaub

I made this last night and it was so good. But it only made two bowls and was pretty salty, so I may have let it simmer too long or too high. On the stove now is a version with potatoes and spinach.

Margaret in Pittsburgh

I recently got a big bag of garlic from my CSA and had garlic soup in mind. I was going to wing it, but decided to try your recipe instead. I just finished licking my spoon clean- delicious!


As my daughter said while finishing her bowl of soup tonight, "Who ever thought of making soup entirely from garlic was a genius!"

The whole family just loved this. I served it with olive bread instead of walnut bread.


I made this tonight, and it is just perfect. Will be making it again and again this winter. It's easy to tell this is a well-worn and well-loved recipe.

That beautiful photo at the top made me laugh remembering your comment about "shooting a lot of brown" during your BlogHer presentation. You really do brown justice, Heidi.


Whooop! So happy to hear that so many of you are enjoying this soup as much as I do! -h


Delicious! I cooked it up with Ginormous Elephant Garlic from the Pt. Reyes Station Farmer's Market and threw it over some crusty whole wheat levain. It hit the spot! Thanks for the recipe!

Diana Louise

Oooohhh, this sounds beautiful. I love your photos Heidi. They have so much warmth and interest to them.

emma. our kitchen

I just got back from a trip to Greece and all I could think about on the plane back was how I was looking forward to fall and comforting soups. I made your rustic cabbage soup last night, which was perfect, and will be making this tonight!


is there a substitute i can use for the cheese? i can't have dairy OR wheat..... but i'd LOVE to make this!!!

bobbie sutton

I made the soup last night for my family and they loved it! Such a great recipe and so much fun to cook. I will definitely make it again!


Talk about timing! I printed out this recipe yesterday afternoon & later that evening my daughter called to ask some questions about "doctoring" herself. She has picked up a nasty cold and is feeling very under the weather. I'm going to run a batch of this up to campus today...I think it will help to perk her up. Thanks Heidi!!


Awesome - just made it for lunch, and the few ingredients made it so I didn't need to buy anything = key! I'll have a pic on my blog soon. Thank you!


I've sadly never tried Garlic soup... I must be living under a rock!


This is a little random... but have you ever tried making super-natural pumpkin cookies? I remember loving my grandma's home-made pumpkin cookies as a child, but the recipes I've found use refined sugar and flour + excessive amounts of butter...Any ideas?


I made this soup for a get-together tonight and it was great, except that I read "four cups" as "four servings." I added a bunch of white beans, a little spinach, and, um, sausage (sorry). Everyone loved it. Thanks so much for the great recipe.


I have a faint memory of making garlic soup when I was younger. It took my whole family gathering in the kitchen to slice up the forty-some cloves of garlic...the soup came out delicious enough that I still remember it, but I don't think my mom ever found the motivation to make it again. Maybe I'll recruit some friends for a soup dinner because this sounds absolutely wonderful!


gotta say, I made this and was not convinced. Until I had it a again a day later.
As with all soups, it needs a day for all the flavors to fuse together and strengthen, proving soups should always be made a day in advance.


I am not a kind of garlic fan, but it sure sounds delightful, guess i'll try it once. Thanks for the quiet enthusiastic recipe.


I made this last night and it was amazing. My guests could not stop eating it. I served it with bread on the side rather than putting the bread in the bottom of the bowl, and we essentially used the soup as a dipping sauce. We ended up scrapping the entree because all we wanted was garlic soup and bread!

I'm a huge fan of your blog. Your recipes have inspired me to become a semi-vegetarian (with the occasional fish or chicken dish thrown in).


Looks delicious, I have actually never heard of garlic soup before, but I know I would love this soup.

Southern Grace Gourmet

I can't belive to copy the recipe I have to copy all the coments that's bad.

HS: Hi Marina, you can just click on the link for "print recipe" and that version strips out the comments.


This recipe is so easy and I can smell the nutty garlic just from reading it! I'm going to have to try this!

Kitchen Kitten

Hi Heidi,

I just stumbled across your blog recently and I have to say, it's really inspiring.
Your photos are gorgeous, and I love this recipe for garlic soup. I ate something similar once, but it was a cool soup, a gazpacho of sorts. I love that this recipe doesn't use cream. Will definitely try it out this week!


Hi Heidi,
Thanks for this recipie.. Garlic soup is just right for us cos garlic is known to be good for people with cholestrol. I was actually looking for some good recipies with garlic in them, cos my husband has cholestrol. But in this soup you hav used three egg yolks which is a big NO-NO for cholestrol. Do you have any other adaptaion of this soup without the egg yolk?



I see what you mean about the process of making ice cream, whisking in the broth is just like whisking in the hot cream. I'm just imagining how wonderful the texture of this soup is, it must give a nice creamy-mouth feel, without the cream!

Thanks for sharing!



I made this soup this afternoon with high high hopes that I would love it.

Well, I did not. I am not sure if I did something wrong or what, but mine was an unsightly shade of brown/tan and was slightly curdled. Did I cook it too long once I added the eggs? I am so disappointed. :(


Dear Heidi,

I've been following your blog for the past year and just wanted to say how much your recipes have opened my eyes to natural, vegetarian cooking. As a fellow photo guy and foodie, you're site's far and above the rest.

I just finished this recipe, and it tastes fantastic, the texture is great, but the soup came out looking a little curdled. My best guess is that I left it on the heat too long. Does that sound plausible? All the best, Matt

HS: Hi Matt. It sounds like your eggs cooked all the way. Yeah, you have to be almost overly careful. Next time go more slowly, trickle the broth into the egg mixture and then back into the main pot. Hope you give it another try!


I made this tonight because the cold is finally setting in!
However, I didn't have any Parmesan so to maintain the salty and creaminess, I combined 1 part chicken broth with 3 parts water for the broth, and then added a splash of milk to the finished soup to cool it down as well as make it richer.
It turned out well! Perfect cold day soup.


Taste was good for sure, but I think I had the same problem as Matt. The eggs ended up cooking in the soup leaving me with steamed, scrambled eggs. An albeit tasty, steamed, scrambled eggs, but still not soup. I'm not sure if the reason for this is because I should have slowly brought the eggs to a higher heat (i.e. slowly ladled more soup to the mixture) or what Matt said, left it in the heat too long b/c even though I whisked the mixture the whole time, the eggs were still cooking on the inside edges where the whisk could not get to all the time.

It is a very good and easy recipe and hopefully I'll try again another time. :D


This sounds like an amazing dish- simple, hearty- just perfect for these fall evenings. I am putting this on my tapas menu since it sounds like something that will really wow our friend David!

Deborah Dowd

Made this for dinner last night..fantastic! If you are having problems with your eggs "cooking" I think you may be adding the hot broth to the eggs too fast. Very slowly drizzle it in, whisking constantly. Also, I added about 2 cups of broth before adding it to the pot to make sure the eggs mixture is warm enough. Hope that helps.


I enjoyed reading this, but I'm vegan, so I veganized it and made it tonight. It was great! Thank you for being an inspiration to so many.
Here is my veganized version:

increase liquid to 4-1/2 c water
spices, salt and garlic as above
add 1/3 c white rice
add 1 carrot, roughly chopped

Ignore the egg & cheese binder and do this instead:
When the rice and carrot are tender, remove bay and sage, and transfer remaining solids to a blender with about half the broth. Puree. Add 2 to 4 Tbsp of nutritional yeast while blending. Add back to the remaining broth in the pot, add olive oil to taste, stir, and eat.

(The carrot adds cheesy color and fiber to help thicken, the rice thickens it when pureed.)

Thanks again!


the cooling weather and this beautiful recipe finally turned inspiration into action in my kitchen. i added an extra dimension of garlic with garlic-flavored olive oil (thanx to eric gower, i always have some garlic confit in my fridge!). i highly recommend making extra--my husband devoured it and was highly disappointed that the pot was empty! thanx for sharing this delightful soup. i'm looking forward to many more!!!


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