Portugese Sopa de Grao



I’ve always been a soup person, and it’s a real surprise for me to find that not everyone is. Soups can be a whole, heavy meal in itself or a light lunch or in-between snack.  This soup of Portugese origins is a meal all by itself, light enough but substantial depending on how you make it.  Best of all, I think it’s pretty healthy.

The soup is called Sopa de Grao which translates to Cork-Stripper’s Pottage.  As you know, Portugal produces most of the world’s cork.  Cork is produced by first stripping the bark from the cork trees and hence the need for Cork-Strippers.  I can just imagine cork-strippers working under  the glare of the Portugese sun, while a big pot of Sopa cooks by a wood fire nearby.  Or do they have them delivered to the workplace these days?  You know…like that Soup Peddler on a bicycle from Austin, Texas…

Here’s the recipe for Sopa de Grao:

2 1/2 c Dried garbanzos, washed and sorted
2 qt .Cold water
4 med. Garlic cloves,  peeled and minced
4 lg Yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp. vegetable  oil
3 med. red-skin potatoes, unpeeled & coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. Crumbled leaf thyme
1/2 tsp. Ground coriander seeds
1 lg Bay leaf
1 qt Beef or chicken broth, preferably homemade
1/2 lb Pepperoni or Chorizo, if available: Portuguese chourico or  linguica, diced
1 c Finely chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 ts Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Olive oil for topping

Soak the garbanzos overnight in 6 cups of the water in a large heavy kettle. Next day, add the remaining 2 cups water, bring to a gentle boil, cover, and cook 4-to-5 hours or until the garbanzos are very tender.

Meanwhile, stir-fry the garlic and onions in the peanut oil in a second large, heavy kettle over moderate heat for 12-to-15 minutes until lightly browned. Add the potatoes and stir-fry 2-to-3 minutes; add the thyme, coriander, and bay leaf, turn the heat down low, and allow to mellow about 10 minutes. Pour in the broth, bring all to a gentle simmer, cover and cook slowly. As soon as you’ve set the 2 kettles to simmer, stir-fry the chorizo in a large heavy skillet 3-5 minutes, just until lightly browned and most of the drippings have cooked out. Drain the chorizo well, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Set aside.

Return 1 tablespoon drippings to the skillet, add the spinach and stir-fry 2-3
minutes over moderate heat just until glazed and intensely green; reserve. When the garbanzos are tender, puree 1/2 of them by buzzing 60 seconds in a food processor, adding only enough kettle liquid to puree them easily. Return the pureed garbanzos to the
kettle in which they cooked. Now puree the potato mixture in 2 batches, buzzing each 30 to 40 seconds in a food processor. Blend the potato mixture into the garbanzo mixture, add the reserved chorizo and spinach, cover, and simmer 30-to-40 minutes, just long
enough to mellow the flavors.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf, then smooth in the olive oil. Makes 6 to 8 Servings.

3 Replies to “Portugese Sopa de Grao”

  1. Sopa de Grao is directly translated to Soup of Grain (sopa = soup, de = of, grao = grain) and the Portuguese call chick peas or garbanzo beans grao. I’ve never heard the cork-stripper version, although it very well may have been a staple for them.

  2. do you think they also used kale instead of spinach? i have a lot of portuguese co-workers and what they know as kale soup is so different from what i know it as (beef and/or chourico, red beans, potatoes, chopped kale).

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