Autumn is my favorite season. It’s not too hot, not too cold and there’s a crisp, wood-burning aroma in the air. Makes me want something simple, warm and comforting, which pretty much describes most Portuguese food
Last year I wrote about “5 Strange Portuguese Foods That I’ve Grown To Love”, and one of them I talked about was the “bread soup” Açorda Alentejana. Different from the mushier variety, Açorda de Gambas, it’s a nice brothy bread soup made from simply garlic, fresh cilantro and extra virgin olive oil boiled up in a pot of water. Eggs are then added to poach right before serving over a bowl full of torn pieces of crusty pão Alentejano. Many people also add bacalhau, Portugal’s beloved salt cod, to the dish. I had recently enjoyed Açorda Alentejana at a local restaurant for lunch and was inspired to try making it at home on a cool night when I didn’t feel like doing much for dinner. And it is indeed such an easy recipe, it took less than 20 minutes to prep and serve the whole dish! And despite such few ingredients it was a very hearty meal, we couldn’t even finish our bowls! I made it with bacalhau as well, and though this fish can be pretty smelly just plain boiled, when added to the soup it really mellows out the flavor and makes it nice
Açorda Alentejana: (makes 2-3 servings)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2-4 eggs, depending on if you want more than one egg in your bowl
- 2-3 slices of Alentejano style bread or any other good, crusty bread/roll, torn into pieces
- sea salt (Portuguese sea salt would be great, but any regular will do, or kosher salt)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Salt cod filet, pre-soaked, rinsed and ready to cook – I used a frozen one (or you can use fresh cod or something similiar)
1. Boil the cod in sea-salted water with a good slug of extra virgin olive oil for about 10 mins or until it floats to the top and looks flakey. Remove and shred the flesh, discard the skin and bones and set aside. You can use the boiling water as the water for the soup if you want, but it might be more fishy.
2. Crush together the garlic cloves with a good pinch of sea salt and half of the cilantro.
3. Heat up a pot with olive oil, add the crushed mixture and sauté for a couple minutes, without burning the garlic.
4. Add about 1-1.5 liters of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
5. Once boiling, swirl the water and gently crack the eggs in, add the rest of the cilantro and let simmer until eggs are cooked – a couple of minutes if you still want them runny on the inside, more time if you want them fully cooked.
6. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls with torn bread. Spoon the shredded cod on top and serve!