Portuguese Cuisine – Sopa à Portuguesa (Portuguese Soup)

Soup is a comfort food, and the Portuguese have many ways to make that comfort food. We raised our children on the Portuguese soup recipe I am going to share with you. It’s versatile; you add or subtract items as the seasons come and go. Since the soup base needs to be pureed, you will need a food mill, or an immersion blender. The Portuguese were way ahead of us with the immersion blender, and it works like a charm, but the food mill works just as well: you just have to work harder.

Sopa à Portuguesa
Soup base: how much you use of each ingredient depends on how much soup you want to make. It’s good left over, so if you find you like it, make a big batch.
2 -3 potatoes
3 – 4 carrots
1 large onion
garlic to taste
1 turnip or more (I prefer rutabagas)
any other root vegetables you may like
1 cup or more of pureed pumpkin (can used canned)
olive oil
Choose one: turnip greens, spinach, cabbage (or some other kind of green leafy vegetable) or Italian-style green beans
rice (if you like it)
Parsley and cilantro, minced
Peel the potatoes, turnips, onions, garlic and carrots.Cut them into small cubes. Chop the onion, and mash the garlic. Put them all into a large pot, and add the pumpkin. Barely cover with water. Add a spoonful of olive oil. (I usually drop a few chicken cubes in, or use broth.) Bring to a boil, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Puree the vegetables with an immersion blender. (Or use a food mill, and put the puree back into the broth in the pot.) 
Rinse the other vegetables. Leafy vegetables should be shredded or torn into small pieces. If you have green beans, they should be kitchen sliced into pieces about 1/8 of an inch long.  Add them to the puree along with a half cup or so of rice and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, and the rice is cooked. 
Stir in some minced Italian parsley, and cilantro to taste. Add salt and pepper if you like.
Sopa à Portuguesa

Portuguese Legends – O Galo de Barcelos

Galo de Barcelos

If you visit Portugal, you will see multiple variations of these colorful roosters nearly everywhere that you go. One of the popular (but unofficial) Portuguese symbols, the story of the Cock of Barcelos goes  so far back in history, that it would be difficult to discover the exact origin. Some place it in the 16th century. There are several permutations of the story. This one features a Spaniard from Galicia, who had come to Portugal to make a pilgrimage to a shrine. Given that any truce between Portugal and Spain at that time was, at best, an uneasy one I can imagine something like this happening.

A Spaniard from the province of Galícia, Spain, was making a pilgrimage to a Portuguese holy shrine. He stopped in the village of Barcelos to rest from his journey during the heat of the day.

That afternoon, a horrible crime was committed: one of the prominent men of the village was murdered. The alarm went out, and during the search, they found the Spaniard resting in the shade in an out of the way corner of the village. Since he was the only stranger in the village, they immediately put him under arrest, and took him before the magistrate of the village. He was found guilty, and condemned to die the next morning.

During the evening, the Spaniard poured out his heart to God for deliverance. Then, he begged, and pleaded with the jailor to take him once more before the magistrate, that he might try to persuade him of his innocence.

His request was so eloquent that jailor took pity on him, and took him to the magistrate’s home. The magistrate was eating supper, and not pleased to be disturbed, but he gave his assent. The Spaniard was taken into the dining room, and the magistrate gave him permission to speak. The man from Galícia made his defense passionately, but he saw his doom in the eyes of the magistrate. Just then, he noticed that there was a roasted rooster on the supper table. In desperation, the prisoner pointed at the rooster and said, “If I am innocent, that rooster will stand up and crow when you take me to the gallows.” Then the jailor took him back to the jail.

The next morning, just before sunrise, the Spaniard was taken from jail to the gallows. The executioner checked the rope while the magistrate stood nearby with the rooster on its platter – perhaps to mock the prisoner, or maybe to discover if he had told the truth. The executioner put the noose over the prisoner’s head, and tightened it around his neck. The sun peeped over the horizon, and suddenly the roasted rooster stood up and crowed. The prisoner was set free, and gave thanks to God and the saints for his vindication.

Portuguese Cuisine – Frango Assado no Forno (Roast Chicken)

Roast chicken is a favorite food in Portugal. I’ve eaten chicken marinated and grilled, roasted whole in the oven, in soup, and in Chinese food. Someone in Portugal gave me this recipe. It is simple, but yummy! For reasons that will become obvious, we nicknamed it Frango Suppositorio. Don’t let that put you off, though. It’s good.

Time required: about an hour and a half

One young fryer chicken

Frango assado

Four chicken bouillon cubes
One fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Turn oven on high – at least 450 degrees F.

Clean the chicken, remove any organs (save them for the chicken soup) and the neck. Then, pick off any pin feathers that might be on it. Wash it inside and out.

Use a fork to poke holes all over the lemon, and place the lemon in the chicken’s body cavity. Put  two chicken cubes in the neck, and two under the piece that went over the fence last. Tuck the wings under the back, and tie the legs together.

Place chicken in a Pyrex casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in the heated oven. Roast until done. (Use a meat thermometer to make sure it is done.)  Depending on the size of the chicken, it may take up to an hour and a half to cook it thoroughly.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove the lemon, carve and pour the sauce that will be in the casserole on the carved chicken. Serve with oven fried potatoes, a salad, and fresh fruit for dessert.

Portuguese Cuisine – Arroz Doce

When we were on furlough from our ministry in Portugal, supporters and others often asked about Portuguese cuisine. What was it like? Was it hot and spicy? What were some of the things we ate? So, I thought that I would put the recipes of some of our favorite Portuguese foods. I’ll start with a traditional Christmas confection (though it is popular at any time of the year):
Minho is in the north of Portugal

Arroz-Doce Minho (Rice Pudding made in the manner of Minho)

(It takes approximately 45 minutes to make this dessert, which serves 6.)

2 cups of short-grain white rice
2 cups of sugar (I generally use less)
4 egg yolks
1 and 1/2 quarts of milk
salt, grated lemon zest, and cinnamon to taste
Add the rice to a pan of boiling water, seasoned with a little salt, and after the water comes back to a boil, keep it on the burner for 5 more minutes. Drain off the water.
In another pan, pour in the milk, and the grated lemon zest, and bring it to the boil; add the drained rice. Cook it at a very low temperature. Add the sugar, and cook for ten more minutes. Take it off of the heat, and let it cool a little while. Take a little of the rice mixture, and put it in a bowl. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing them well. Then add the rice in the bowl back to the rest of the cooked rice. Cook the mixture with the eggs without boiling.
Divide the cooked rice pudding among some small dessert bowls. Let cool. Decorate with cinnamon as you can see in the photo.
WARNING: this rich dessert can become addictive! 🙂