Soup forms an integral part of everyday meals in Portugal and, in some regions, may even be the main dish at dinner time. Made with a variety of rich ingredients, Portuguese soups are tasty, nourishing and many of them so filling that they often constitute a meal in themselves.
There is an enormous variety of soups to choose from in Portugal. Here is a list of a few you that will commonly find in traditional restaurants:
Caldo Verde (Green soup): A nourishing soup made with potatoes, onions, finely-shredded kale and a touch of olive oil. It’s served with a slice or two of spicy smoked sausage (chouriço) and a slice of corn bread.
Canja de Galinha (Chicken broth): Classic chicken broth containing rice or short cut pasta. The traditional recipe (now usually only used in the country) also includes the giblets and unhatched eggs.
Sopa da Pedra (Stone soup): This is one of Portugal’s richest soups and comes from the city of Almeirim, north of Lisbon. Legend has it that a hungry friar begging for alms knocked at the door of an Almeirim farm labourer’s house. When the labourer tried to turn him away, the friar picked up a stone and asked him to lend him a pot and some water so that he could make a delicious stone soup. Incredulous, the labourer and his family agreed. As the water boiled, the friar remarked that the soup would improve considerably if they gave him some lard, which they also provided. Tasting the soup at various intervals, the friar was able to obtain salt, cabbage and a morsel of smoked sausage, everything he needed to make his wholesome soup. When he had eaten it, only the stone remained at the bottom of the pot. Questioned by the family over what he would do with the stone, the friar replied that he would wash it and take it with him for use the next time he was hungry.
Nowadays, the traditional soup is made of kidney beans, pork’s ear, black pudding, smoked pork sausage, ‘farinheira’ (pork sausage made with flour), uncured bacon, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves, coriander, salt, pepper and, naturally, the indispensable stone.
Sopa de Tomate (Tomato soup): This tasty tomato soup is made of tomato and onions and is served with a poached egg.
Açorda/Sopa Alentejana (Alentejo soup): Açorda was originally made as a way of using up stale bread and is a tasty soup from the Alentejo region. It consists of slices of white, crusty bread that are sprinkled with olive oil and and then soaked in a delicious mixture of boiling water infused with garlic, salt and coriander. Poached eggs are placed on top of the bread just before serving.