Sopa á Portuguesa – Portuguese Soup

Soup is a comfort food, and the Portuguese have many ways to make us comfortable. 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.
Chicken broth is a good way to start. Then add:
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
 Do you have any favorite soup recipe?

The Óbidos Pousada

Óbidos is a beautiful walled city that takes you back a number of century. We visited when we lived there and loved it. Sure would like to see it again now that I know this story.

Salt of Portugal

Obidos Composit The first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, laid siege to the Óbidos castle for two months, but the moorish population resisted his attack. One moonless night, a beautiful lady came down from the castle to speak to the king. She told him that, although she lived in the castle, she was not moorish. And that she had a recurrent dream she had to fulfill. The king was to attack the castle’s main door. At the same time, he would send a small group of soldiers to the back. There, the lady would leave an open door to let them in. Their surprise attach would secure the victory of the Portuguese troops.

The king of Portugal feared falling into a trap. But something about the lady’s demeanor convinced him to adopt her plan. The next day, the castle back door was indeed open and the Portuguese conquered Óbidos. The king looked everywhere for the beautiful lady, but…

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The Portuguese Years: Year Six – Visiting the Grandparents (1985)

The girls were growing up so quickly. Their grandparents had never even seen Susie in person. And I don’t know any grandparents who would find photos of their grandchildren an adequate substitute. Not even close. There may or may not

Harry and I pow-wowed about ways and means, and laid plans. Harry would not be able to go because he could not be spared for two months during camp season. He would miss us less while we were gone. Or so we believed.

And so one sunny June day Harry took us to the airport and helped with luggage. We kissed him good-by at the gate, and the girls and I boarded a jet plane bound for New York City.

Looking back, I think I had temporarily lost my good sense taking two such young children on my own. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. Susie had to sit on my lap the whole trip, and Susie was still nursing,  Bethy had a seat of her own was a great help keeping her sister entertained. Both girls were reasonably well-behaved (as opposed to the infant behind us who cried. A lot.)

We arrived in New York about seven hours after we left but having gained some time as we flew. Two sleepy small girls and I were overcome by the size of the airport. Family members were there to pick us up and take us to Pennsylvania. Our summer adventure had begun.

Jet plane

The extraordinary salt of Castro Marim

The Salt of Portugal had this awesome post about the importance of salt and the kind that is best for you.

Salt of Portugal

Castro Marin Composit

The Romans loved salt. They used it to cook, to preserve food, and as a form of currency (the practice of paying soldiers in salt is the origin of the word salary). So, it is not surprising that the Romans settled in Castro Marim. This small town on the marshes of the Guadiana river produced great salt.

During the 20th century, this production became industrialized. The salt was harvested with heavy machinery that leaves plenty of chemical residues. It was then washed and processed to turn its grey color into white, striping the salt of magnesium, potassium, and other important minerals.

Artisanal producers abandoned their salt ponds and so did the fish and birds that used them as habitats. Centuries of knowledge about producing great salt was on the verge of being lost.

But then, the tide turned. In the late 1990s, a cooperative called Terras de Sal revived the artisanal salt trade. It invited a French…

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The Portugal Years: Bone Chapel

Bone Chapel  Courtesy of Maravilhas de Portugal and
Bone Chapel
Courtesy of Maravilhas de Portugal and

Usually, when we think of Bones Chapel we think of the one in  Évora. However, there are more chapels of Bones in Portugal and the Évora one is not unique. The Chapel of Bones Alcantarilha is located on the south side of the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the sixteenth century in the heart of the beautiful town of Alcantarilha in full Algarve region. The Chapel of Bones dating back also to the sixteenth century, set in the same stylistic line of other existing genre of chapels in the country, as in Évora, Faro and Lagos. Its interior is almost all covered and ornamented by more than 1,500 human bones, with the exception of work of sculpture of the figure of the Crucified Christ dating from the sixteenth century. Some say, though without any reliable evidence that these bones were of Jesuit brothers who perished in the region.

Would you like to visit here?



The Portugal Years: The Bridge 25th of April.

Twenty-Fifth of April Bridge
Twenty-Fifth of April Bridge courtesy of Maravilhas de Portugal

The 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon over the Tagus River, opens the list of the 15 most beautiful bridges in Europe, according to a list of Best European Destinations (EBD), a travel organization promoting culture and tourism in Europe. The Lisbon bridge, similar to Golden Gate San Francisco, USA, was inaugurated on 6 August 1966. In addition to this, the Luis I Bridge (or Don Luis, as it is known), in Porto, earned the fifthThe site advises crossing the lower deck to reach Gaia and its banks, as well as a boat trip on the Douro to admire the bridge. Already the Vasco da Gama Bridge, also in Lisbon, is the longest bridge in Europe (including viaducts) and occupies the 14th position in the list. It was inaugurated in 1998, the same year that the Expo 98 was made. The dictator, Salazar, had ordered it to be built and it was inaugurated in 1966, and the bridge was named Salazar Bridge in his honor.

The bloodless revolution in 1974 did away with the dictators as the soldiers put carnations in their rifles. It occurred on April 25th and they changed the name to The 25th of April Bridge. There is a celebration each year on that date as they consider it their day of independence.

Surprise party!!!

Do we have fun? Oh yeah! Our beloved Professor VJ is having a birthday. Though he is ancient, and occasionally crusty, he does serve up a lot of confusion and mayhem. Many returns of the day, PVJ.

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A castle somewhere in Scotland…

sofa 1

Right, everyone – he’s on his way! Get behind the sofa! Shhhhh! Manly-Man, this is no time to be disco-dancing! Fats Henry, please breathe in. Schwarzy, my sweetie pumpkin pie, you know I think your loon impersonations are cute and adorable but…NOT NOW!! Shhhhh! Here he comes. Ready…?



Come on in, Prof. Grab yourself a glass of punch and some cashews, and relax while your friends give you birthday greetings with their…


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From Susan P at The Portugal Years

Are you ready, kids? AYE AYE, PROFESSOR
Who lives in a pickle under the sea?
Professor VJ!
Sly and slippery and clever is he
Professor VJ!
If Punchy Land nonsense you would see
Professor VJ!
Then climb up to the…

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