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?

Portuguese Cuisine: Grilled Sardines (Sardinhas Assadas)

Preparing fish is one of the Portuguese fine arts. With approximately half of the Portuguese border lying next to the Atlantic Ocean, this should not come as a surprise. Sardines are plentiful along the coast, and fortunately they do not put them in tins; they grill them.

Every summer pretty well every region of Portugal has its own sardine festival. Vendors set up their grills along the streets and cook the freshly caught fish. People buy and enjoy them.

It’s an easy recipe:

Season freshly caught sardines with salt, lemon juice and cilantro on the outside and the inside. Carefully place the fish on a very hot grill. Turn when the first side is a golden brown. When well cooked, place the grilled sardines on a platter and cover it with a “sauce.” Take two peeled and chopped tomatoes, three tablespoons of olive oil, crushed raw cloves of garlic to taste, thin slices of onion to taste, salt and pepper and the juice of a half of lemon. Sauté the onion and garlic then add to the other ingredients and mix lightly. Serve with grilled potatoes sprinkled with olive oil.

Grilled Sardines
Grilled Sardines

Do you like sardines or other fish?

The Portugal Chronicles – Year One: Food Shopping or What Exactly IS That?

The day after we moved into our apartment, Harry handed me a pocket sized English-Portuguese dictionary and a 1000 escudo bill (about $20.00 U.S.) and encouraged me to go to the mil-escudos-d-pedro-v-1980store and to get some groceries. Then he ran off to catch the bus.  My Portuguese at the time consisted mostly of sounds and a few words.  I could say “good morning, ” “good evening,” “good night” and “I don’t speak Portuguese.” However, when I said it, I discovered that it immediately set off a long monologue entirely in Portuguese.

I sat and studied the money.  I cast wary glances at the dictionary in my other hand. And I pondered the plethora of mishaps that might lie before me. I looked up hamburger and discovered it is the same word in Portuguese.  Harry loves hamburgers and I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

cobbleI set out on the cobblestone pavement, and paused outside of the butcher shop. The window was full of meat. Hanging on hooks.  Dripping into puddles of blood on the floor. I decided that there had to be  meat somewhere that didn’t look like a blood sacrifice.

I had been in the small market with Harry the previous year. Would that I had paid more attention. The small market carried a lot butcher shopof packaged foods. They even carried two brands of corn flakes (Kellogg’s and the National brand). But the fresh meat cuts did not look familiar, and my Portuguese did not stretch far enough to ask questions. If that were not enough, the meat was sold in Metric measures. I didn’t speak that yet, either.

Up and down the aisles I trolled until I found a small freezer. I peered at the contents. I couldn’t read the labels except for one package: “hamburger”. Bingo. I picked up some bread, potatoes (two things Harry told me he could not live without) and some milk and cookies. (The milk came in a plastic bag.)

At the check out, anxiety hit again. Was there enough money? How would I know how much money I should give them? What would I do if they talked to me?   At the register, they took my purchases, rang them up and then said something. I handed them the thousand escudos. The cashier asked me something. I shrugged. He gave me change.

The hamburgers were almost a hit. They were heavily seasoned, mostly with garlic and salt. I could foresee that eventually, I was going to have to make friends with the butcher shop.

Next episode: Transportation

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 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

Ingredients:
One young fryer chicken

Frango assado

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

Directions:

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.)

Ingredients:
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! 🙂