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Recipe: Portuguese Açorda a Alentejana (Bread & Garlic Soup)

Posted on 10/15/2019 12:00:00 AM in The Buzz

Made with just a few staple ingredients, Portugal’s adored Açorda is a warm and tasty comfort food ideal for the cold weather.

Like many great country dishes, Açorda began as peasant food in the 8th-10th centuries. A millennium ago, the simply made stew—water turned into broth with homemade herb pesto, then served with day-old bread and poached eggs—was meant to provide nourishment on the cheap, but it was so comforting that it spread across class lines.

Also known as sopa Alentejana (named after the Alentejano region, where it originated), the dish has evolved with countless variations over the centuries, some cooks swapping the cilantro for pennyroyal or mint, others adding game or seafood (especially in Lisbon). What is shared by all recipes is the need for a hearty stale bread; traditionally the bread is pão Alentejano, a sourdough with a firm chew.

We’ve chosen the original recipe as the perfect dish for a chilly evening when you want comfort food without a lot of bother.

Açorda Recipe

(Serves 6)

With only 8 eight ingredients (three of which are salt, pepper, and water) the prep is easy and the shopping simple. If you can’t get to a Portuguese baker for Alentejano bread, any hearty sourdough will do; in either case, the bread needs to be several days old, so it can stand up to the broth.


6 eggs
8 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro
6 big slices of stale sourdough bread
¼ cup olive oil
8 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste

Bonus tip: Want to add seafood or meat? After the eggs are removed, add the seafood or meat of choice and cook in the broth till poached.


  1. Crush the garlic with a pestle in a mortar or chop fine and then drag the minced garlic across a cutting board with the back of knife to break it down.

  2. In the mortar (or a small bowl), add the cilantro leaves and olive oil, to form a pesto.

  3. In a heavy pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium and break the eggs over the water, letting them poach for 3 minutes.

  5. With a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs to a plate lined with paper towels. (Do not drain the pot.)

  6. Pour the pesto from Step 2 into the hot water and stir well to make your broth. Adjust seasoning as desired.

  7. Set out six bowls; lay a slice of bread in each and top the bread with a poached egg.

  8. Pour the broth over the bread and egg, and serve immediately.

Savor the flavors of the Alentejano region and beyond during your Back Roads of Iberia: Spanish Paradores & Portuguese Pousadas adventure.

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