Soups are an essential part of a Portuguese traditional meal. Although the most famous is Caldo Verde, Portugal has a lot to offer when it comes to the magic transformation of a few simple vegetables into a tasty and nutritious meal. Soups are normally a simple affair with only one rule – excellent ingredients – just get seasonal veg at the market and you’ll be fine.
This recipe is for a soup that is traditionally from the north of the country that can be a substantial meal in itself. The Portuguese are rather particular about the quality of beans and there is much to choose from when it comes to varieties. This recipe uses a brown coloured bean called manteiga which is similar to pinto beans. Although you can get beans already cooked in a jar, this soup needs the real thing as most of the flavour will come from the water used to cook the beans.
As with most dried beans, soak overnight in plenty of water (you can soak a larger quantity and then freeze the cooked beans to use in other recipes).
Fish and seafood soups are often proud specialities for restaurants all along Portugal’s coast. Different varieties of fish and shellfish combined with rich fish stocks and vegetables make these soups a substantial meal and a great use of off cuts and left overs if you have lots of fish and seafood around the house. You can also ask your fishmonger to make you a soup mix.
This recipe is a healthy (low carb, lactose and gluten free) version of a seafood chowder and substitutes cream for a mix of almond milk and silken tofu. This makes for not only a lighter and healthier dish but also allows the intense seafood flavours to come to the fore. The key for a rich flavoursome soup is a good shellfish stock, made here by simply steaming cockles and mussels. Types of fix and quantities are very flexible so do experiment…
The pungent aroma of garlic makes its way into most Portuguese dishes. From thin raw slices to slow fried minced pieces, this keystone of Southern European cuisine is remarkably versatile in its use. This recipe takes garlic in its most sweet and nutty character to flavour a delicate creamy soup. The recipe is inspired by 18th century Portuguese techniques which provide substance and body to broths by using ground almonds. The ground almonds not only thicken the broth but provide extra flavour. Chia seeds are included as an optional ingredient of their superfood status and to add consistence and texture to the soup. This is a quick and simple yet sophisticated soup you can prepare while making the rest of your meal.
Canja is the generic name for a soup consisting of a light poultry stock, typically chicken. The soup is given some substance with either rice or small pasta and makes for an excellent heart-warming starter. This recipe uses goose rather than chicken which makes for a richer, creamier dish and is great use for a roast carcass. You can keep some shredded goose meat to add to the soup at the end. For the stock simply boil the carcass in salted water at moderate heat for 1 hour.