Sopa Alentejana (Alentejo bread and garlic soup)

Sopa Alentejana (Brot-Knoblauch-Suppe aus dem Alentejo) | Maître Philippe & Filles

Those who know me know that I love garlic. And for those who didn't know it yet, let me tell you: I love garlic in all its variations.

That's why I always look forward to the new harvest of pink garlic from Lautrec, which is traditionally celebrated in this small medieval town at the beginning of August.

Pink garlic and rosé

When the new harvest arrives, the pretty pink braids permeate the shop with their scent - and the home kitchen with it. During one of our recent visits to Lisbon, I was treated to a delicious soup - the Sopa Alentejana. The main ingredients? Bread, cilantro, olive oil, an egg and lots of garlic!

As the name suggests, the Sopa Alentejana comes from the Alentejo in eastern Portugal. Originally it was a traditional food of the shepherds who, when they went out in the morning to tend the sheep, carried a cork container with them in which they put everything that was readily available in the area: hot water, stale bread, egg and for the taste of fresh coriander and lots of garlic. When the stomach growled, everything was done and the soup was ready.

Since I immediately fell in love with this very simple yet delicious dish in Lisbon, I really wanted to try the soup here. It's easy!

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • 2 bunches of coriander
  • lots of garlic (I used 10 cloves)
  • a lot of olive oil (according to taste), for example that of Les Moulins Mahjoub from Tunisia
  • Salt
  • Pepper or piment d'Espelette
  • Bread (in Portugal they use pao caseiro, a light sourdough bread. I used stale baguette.)
  • Vinegar for poaching eggs, such as Pineau de Charentes white vinegar
  • approx. 1.5 to 2 liters of water
  • 4 eggs (one egg per person)

Ingredients Sopa Alentejana

Cut the bread into thick slices or very large cubes. Pluck the coriander leaves from the stalks and chop roughly (alternative for the lazy: simply chop the leaves and stalks together). Mash the garlic cloves and chop roughly. Combine the garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and bread in a large stockpot, then season with salt and pepper.

Bring two pots of water to a boil – a small one for poaching the eggs, a larger one with about 2 liters of water for the soup.

When the water for the poaching boils, reduce the heat significantly so that the water only simmers gently – it must not bubble under any circumstances. Add a dash of white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar will turn the egg pink... which can look pretty too). Crack the egg and slide it in carefully, letting it cook until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft.

Pour the boiling water from the large pot over the bread and herb mixture, stir, pour in again and again until the bread is soaked with liquid and then a little more, so that the whole thing becomes a soup and not bread porridge. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in a soup plate, add the poached egg to the soup, drizzle over a generous drizzle of olive oil and your Sopa Alentejana is ready! Bom apetite!

Sopa Alentejana

Our wine recommendation:

Colored to match the summer and from the same region: the Alento Rosé , one of our all-time favorites. A young, intense rosé wine from the Alentejo. 90% Aragonez, 10% Touriga Nacional and 100% joie de vivre. Bright salmon color with intense aromas of ripe red berries (strawberry, raspberry) without being plump or sweet, beautifully harmonious and fresh. 

A white alternative would be a Vinho Verde. These fresh whites have little alcohol and are therefore particularly easy to digest.

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