This is a Portuguese bread and garlic soup, Sopa Seca de Alho, which reminds me somewhat of the Spanish Sopa de Ajo (while being quite different at the same time). Bread soups were, apparently, brought to Iberia by the Moors – think gazpacho, ajoblanco, migas, etc. With very few ingredients other than water, stale bread can be turned into something warm and appetising that fills you up, especially when working in the fields on a cold day.
The Portuguese have a large repertoire of bread soups, known as Açordas (typically from the Alentejo region). The most basic Açordas contain water and garlic, while the more exotic include prawns, coriander, bacalhau (bacalao), eggs, etc.
Sopa Seca de Alho (serves 2):
half a stale baguette, sliced as above (ideally sourdough)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
1 pint stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 heaped teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1 beaten egg
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
In an oven proof pan, fry the garlic in olive oil until it starts to brown a little.
Pour on one pint of hot vegetable or chicken stock (many recipes call for water, but I prefer a bit more flavour).
Stir in a teaspoon of sweet (dulce) pimentón de la Vera and let the liquid simmer for a minute or so.
Push the bread down into the stock, so that it absorbs the liquid.
Pour a beaten egg over the top of the bread.
Put the frying pan into a preheated oven at 200º C for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top has browned. While this is called a dry soup, do not let the pan go completely dry – there should still be a little liquid in the bottom when done.
Serve with sardines, prawns, bacalao, scrambled eggs, etc.
I find this dish quite intriguing. The egg baked into bread has a slight custard flavour, the crust has a texture similar to crispy pork fat and the soft sticky lower side to the bread is quite unctuous. This really does turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I ate sopa seca for lunch, but will be serving individual portions with a fish or fried quail’s egg on top, as a dinner party starter soon.
Know I have eaten bread soup some time some where but this is intriguing 🙂 ! I’d say very good stale bread, a fairly oomphy chicken stock and garlic cooked with love to just the right point . . . add prawns perchance, but would first like it on its own. With perhaps my beloved coriander ? Like this week’s food history homework also . . .
Thanks Eha – there is a specific coriander açorda, where the herb and garlic are ground with a pestle and mortar. Boiling water (or stock) and olive oil are added, along with broken up bread and poached eggs (or fish). Look up Açorda Alentejana – there are lots of recipes online.
This looks delicious, MD! You cook my favorite cuisines. I love everything about this. I hope you’re doing well. Always love popping over here to see what’s in your kitchen. —A
Hi Amanda – it’s so good to see you here! I hope all is well with you and I that your kitchen will reopen in the future.
Thanks, MD. Ive got so many great recipes, I just haven’t been documenting. I have to get back in the habit! Abrazos!
this is very interesting, I must try this 🙂
Thanks Farmgal – do try it, it’s very easy and turns stale bread into something delicious. It’s definitely a good lunch on a cold day!
Silk purse from a sow’s ear indeed. That’s really interesting.
Thanks Michelle – the Portuguese have managed to keep this one a secret!
What an intriguing recipe! It is quite amazing all the recipes we can make with stale bread, from soups to puddings.
Thanks Nadia – no doubt down to the fact that many people once lived on not much more than bread and water. They say that bread made from beer brewing leftovers can sustain life!
Never heard of it before but with your photos snd description I know it’s wonderfully delicious.
Thanks Ruth – it’s wonderfully hearty and made from next to nothing!
Another new and interesting dish I’ve not known. It’s reminiscent a Shaanxi (China) dish called lamb paomo. While the paomo is cooking you crumble this hard flat bread into your bowl, then pour the soup over.
Thanks Ron – I’m going to have to try the paomo ASAP!
You always have the most interesting food to share with us. The nice thing about this one is that we all probably have everything in our kitchen to make it.
Thanks Karen – that’s the great thing about the recipe, most people could go straight to the kitchen and make it, without having to go and buy special ingredients.
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