Welcome to the Curly Cook, a food blog dedicated to good food and wine with Portuguese flare!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bread Soup of Egg, Garlic and Cilantro (Açorda à Alentejana)

Before I sat down to write this post, the first thing I did was try to find an english translation for açorda. Obviously, I came up empty handed and 'bread-soup' was the closest thing I could come up with. I call it bread soup because as far as I know, all açordas use day-old bread to thicken it. This soup is very typical of the southern Alentejo province of Portugal where açordas are also made using codfish (bacalhau) or seafood (marisco).

This is a very regional dish, and it's rare to see it served outside of the Alentejo province. My Mom fell in love with the dish when we happened on a 'hole in the wall' type of restaurant somewhere in the middle of the province on a very hot day. To this day, my Mom still talks about that meal.

Having never attempted to make this dish before, I had my doubts it would turn out, but it was dead easy to make and tasted SO good. It may take you a few minutes to get used to the texture of the soggy bread, but hopefully the flavour of the cilantro and garlic will make you think of
açorda like a Portuguese version of French onion soup (minus the cheese)


4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
6 medium eggs
7 cups boiling water
6 cups (a good size loaf) day old Portuguese, French or Italian crusty bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 tsp ground pepper

1. In a large pot, get the water boiling and add the salt

2. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the garlic and cilantro together until it forms a thickish paste. Transfer to the bottom of a heat-proof bowl or casserole dish and drizzle with the olive oil.

3. Once the water is boiling, poach the eggs. The whites will spread everywhere, just be careful that he yolks don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Gently boil until eggs are cooked through (about 2 or 3 minutes)

4. Add the bread to the bowl and coat all the pieces with the cilantro-garlic-olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with the ground pepper.

5. Pour the boiling egg water mixture into the heat proof bowl and arrange the poached eggs on top. Sprinkle the top with fresh cut cilantro.

6. Serve at the table with a ladle being sure to give place an egg in each person's bowl.


Lisa said...

What an interesting and unique recipe. I just might give this one a try. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Just had this soup in a little back alley restaurant in Coimbra. What a delightful way to warm up on a cool Portuguese winter evening!

Will definitely try it when we return to Canada.

Anonymous said...

Hi "Curly Sandra"

Pitty you can't have that sour tasting wonderfull Alentejano bread
in Canak country :)

As you can see from the other comment,
you can often find "açorda alentejana" in other regions of Portugal, but under another name: "sopa alentejana" because the word "açorda" outside Alentejo, means a medium thick paste also made with old bread. This paste in Alentejo is called "migas".
Yes, small country, big differences between regions.


Anonymous said...

Just a small note:
To avoid "The whites... spread everywhere", you can put the egg
into a soup serving spoon (concha)
dive it in the boiling water, wait for 20/30 seconds until the white becomes "whitish" and them loose the egg in the water, it will not spread.


Stuart said...

I've had this "soup" many times in Portugal, and it's delicious. The best known restaurant that serves it is PAP AÇORDA in Lisboa, but I've had an excellent version of it at TASCA DO MANEL in the same Bairro Alto district. Tasca do Manel is a lot less pretentious (aka expensive) than Pap Acorda. Tasca do Manel serves it as a side dish with just about everything. The Portuguese serve enormous portions that are way more than any one person can possibly eat. Also, the Portuguese make this a little salty for my taste; adjust it to your own taste. This is easily made at home, but it's a lot more fun to have it in Portugal. I love that country!

petitechef said...

Love the idea of this! So unique and interesting! Definitely going to try it out! :) Thanks!!

Zubaidatariq said...


We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
Thanks for sharing this.....

John Williams
Zubaida Tariq

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