Our Daily Bread (Nosso pão de cada dia) – Part 2

In Portugal, the way to get through the day until lunch (almoço) is that Portugal has what the British call, “elevenses.” In Portugal, it’s “lanche.” Sandwiches, pastries, tea and coffee fill in the gap between breakfast and dinner, which is not served until after one p.m. or 2 p.m.

Back in the day, employers gave employees a two-hour lunch. If a family lived close to where they worked, the wife went home, cooked a hot meal and served it before returning to work. Many of the shops closed right down to give employees a chance to rest (sesta). After the meal, the women got to clean up while the men went to the town square to socialize and drink their brandy and coffee before returning to work.


These meals typically begin with some kind of soup. Each region has its own style of soup, and maybe more than one. The soups with which I am most familiar are these:

Sopa à Portuguesa (which was the only food my children were raised on and Canja, which is chicken soup. The links take you to a little bit of history and the recipes for these soups.

After soup, there may be a meat, sea food or chicken dish with French fries, boiled potatoes or rice, and a salad. Dessert is rare, and is more often fruit than sweets. On special occasions there may be some sweet pudding or cake.

Around 5 or 6  in the afternoon, it’s time for another snack break to hold people over until the evening meal. The evening meal (jantar) is served between 8 and 9 p.m. and is another hearty meal – maybe leftovers from the afternoon meal.

Would you be so stressed out if your days had some leisurely built-in breaks like this?

Portuguese Cuisine – É Canja ! (Portuguese Chicken Soup)

Have you ever said, “It’s easy as pie.”? If you’ve ever made a pie from scratch, you know it isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Portuguese saying is, “É canja!” It’s as easy as making chicken soup. I think making chicken soup is much easier than making a pie from scratch (let alone one made from flour, shortening, and all the rest). It does, however, take time to do it right. This is not a microwave recipe. But it is good. Additionally, a popular proverb states: “Cautela e caldos de galinha nunca fizeram mal a ninguem.” (“Caution and chicken broth never did anyone harm.”) This is a basic recipe. Most cooks have their own signature touches they put in their Canja.

1 large stewing hen (You can make chicken soup with a fryer, but it does not come close to the rich flavor of a stewing hen.)

2 quarts of water
1/2 cup of rice
Salt to taste
Italian parsley

Wash the hen in cold running water. Remove the eggs (found inside the chicken), liver, gizzard, feet and heart, and reserve them on the side. Put the hen in a large pot, and add the chicken’s feet, the water and salt or other seasoning you may like. Bring it to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the chicken is tender. This may take several hours. Skim off any foam that forms.

When the broth has reduced to 1and 1/2 quarts, put the gizzard, liver, feet and heart into the broth. After 10 minutes, slowly add the rice. Cover the pot, and let it simmer for approximately 20 minutes, then add the chicken’s eggs and cook ten more minutes.

Take out the gizzard, heart, feet and liver. Put the feet to the side, and mince the rest with a knife. Put some in each soup plate along with some of the hen’s egg(s)  and some minced parsley before you add the broth and rice. Serve with fresh bread.

The Portuguese often use a soup as the first course of a meal, so there is no need to have the meat in your soup, though if you want it for a main dish, you may certainly add more meat. Or, you can use it to make something else.

For many of the older Portuguese women that I knew in Portugal, having a chicken was a rare Sunday treat under Salazar’s rule. That being the case, one would wish to make it stretch as far as possible. I never actually ate any chicken feet, but I was given to understand that it was an honor to be offered one of the feet.

Do you have a special recipe for chicken soup? Is this recipe easy?

Canja de Galinha