Garlic Soup

In the realm of garlic soup recipes, this is it. Inspired by a version in Richard Olney's The French Menu Cookbook, it is made by simmering a dozen cloves of garlic in water with a few herbs, then thickening it with a mixture of egg and shredded cheese. So simple and good.

Garlic Soup

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've turned to most over the past twenty years. It's rooted in a garlic soup published in Richard Olney's classic, The French Menu Cookbook.
garlic soup in a bowl with toasted baguette

Garlic Soup: This Version

Creamy and full-bodied without the use of cream, like the Richard Olney version, this garlic soup 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. 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. I like it on its own. I love it with good bread. Sometimes I pour it over a bowl of hot rice.
half a baguette on a paper bag alongside some torn baguette in a bowl

Garlic Soup Ingredients

  • Garlic: Good garlic is key here. Look for heads that are tight with no discoloration. Press around the outer cloves and move on if you feel any softness or irregularity in the cloves.
  • Herbs: This recipe calls for fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, and a bay leaf. The thyme is arguably the most important of the trio. But feel free to experiment with the herb profile if you like.
  • Water: Yep, water. Not broth. No bouillon is needed. Just go with water.
  • Eggs
  • Cheese: The recipe calls for freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I've also gone the gruyere route if that's what I have on hand. Equally delicious.
  • Salt and Pepper: Take a minute to get your seasoning right here. It's such a simple soup, it's important to get the salt and pepper right. And good, freshly ground black pepper in this soup is a game changer.
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil: Use a good mild tasting olive oil, one that isn't overly assertive or grassy.


  • Cacio e Pepe Garlic Soup: This one is pretty simple, basically go crazy with the freshly ground black pepper. It combines with the Parmesan cheese in the base recipe in classic fashion.
  • Immunity Garlic Soup: Add a thumb-sized amount of ginger (grated) to the water along with the garlic, plus 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric, and again, lots of black pepper.
  • Vegan Garlic Soup: Lee made a comment down in the comments about how he successfully veganized this soup. I've since increased the amount of the water in the main recipe (to 6 cups) and would suggest the following based on his note: Follow the garlic soup instructions and add 1/2 cup white rice  and one roughly chopped carrot to the water. Remove the sage and bay after the 30 minute simmer. Transfer remaining solids to blender with half the broth. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast while blending. Add back to the remaining broth in the pot, add olive oil to taste, stir, and enjoy.

garlic soup in a bowl with toasted baguette

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Garlic Soup

5 from 2 votes

Before you jump into this recipe I want to call out one step that is extra crucial. When you’re combining the egg mixture with the hot garlic broth, you want to go very slowly. This will prevent the eggs from curdling. It’s not the end of the world if that happens, but that’s more like an egg drop soup or straciattella soup. Both delicious, but here you’re after a creamy uniform texture. Basically, if you've ever made ice cream from scratch, you should have no trouble here. The technique is quite similar.

  • 6 cups / 1.5 quart water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • a dozen medium cloves of garlic, smashed peeled, and chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Binding pommade:
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • to serve: day-old crusty bread & more olive oil to drizzle
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, garlic, and salt. Heat to a *very* gentle boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay and sage leaves from the pan and remove from heat.
  2. In the meantime, in a medium bowl with a fork, whisk the egg, egg yolks, cheese, and pepper together until creamy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating all the time. Next you’re going to add a bit of broth to the egg mixture. Slowly! Slowly! Trickle a large ladleful of the broth into the egg mixture whisking constantly.
  3. Now stir the contents of the egg mixture bowl into the garlic broth and whisk it continuously over low heat until it thickens slightly. In Olney’s version he 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. Remove from heat. Place a handful of torn bread chunks into the bottom of each bowl and pour the soup over the bread. Taste, season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and serve immediately.


Makes 4-5 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
5 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
37 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


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'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.


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

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


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.


This looks delicious!

Jessica @ Demeter Made

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 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. Thanks, Nora

Nora Lisman

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

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


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

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.


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.


WONDERFUL use of garlic!


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

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...


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 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!


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

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)

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