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Alentejano Soup

4 large garlic cloves, quartered
2-1/2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus chopped cilantro for optional garnish
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7 cups water
6 large eggs
6 cups 1-1/2-inch cubes day-old Portuguese, French or Italian bread (from a 15-to-18-inch-long loaf)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using a mortar and pestle or in a small food processor, grind the garlic, cilantro leaves and salt to a paste. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl or soup tureen. Blend in the oil. Set aside. Put the water in a large, deep skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Break the eggs one at a time into a cup and slip them into the water. Cook for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the eggs in the order you added them to the pan and place on a folded kitchen towel or paper towel. Keep the egg-poaching water at a gentle boil. Add the bread and pepper to the cilantro paste and toss to mix. Add the reserved egg-poaching water, with any little bits of egg white remaining in it, and stir gently to mix. Carefully place the eggs on top of the soup. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired. To serve, ladle the soup into warm bowls, placing one egg in each bowl.