Monday, May 24, 2010

Acorda (Portuguese Cilantro Bread Soup)

The majesty and impact of some images can be difficult to capture on film (or its digital equivalent). The soul-stirring drama of a sunset, for example. The misty rush of a waterfall. Or, in this case, cilantro soup. This soup, loosely adapted from a Portuguese recipe by the lovely Tea and Cookies, tastes like spring itself. It's kind of unfortunate that the picture looks like a bowl of mulch.

If you can't trust the image, trust me: this soup has a brothy, herbal lightness, but also a depth of flavor from the leeks and hefty dose of garlic. And two secret weapons: a crusty slice of garlic-rubbed toast at the bottom of the bowl, and a poached egg on top. If you, like me, are thinking that a slice of soggy bread doesn't sound like the most awesome idea, I ask you to think again. It's lovely. The original recipe called for white beans, but I opted for a can of the similarly-Iberian garbanzos. It's sort of like the best of garlic bread, soup and salad all in one bowl.

Acorda (Portuguese Cilantro Bread Soup)

adapted from Tea and Cookies, as inspired by San Francisco Magazine

serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, washed, dried and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 2 whole cloves
8 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 bunch chard, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
1 can garbanzos or white beans, rinsed and drained
~2 cups cilantro, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
4 large or 8 small slices peasant-style crusty bread
salt and pepper
4 eggs

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt, and saute until softened. Add the minced garlic, and saute until the garlic is soft but not brown. Add 6 cups of the stock, the chard, and the beans. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a few minutes to soften the chard.

While the soup is simmering, puree the cilantro with the remaining stock in a food processor until it's fairly smooth. Pour this into the pot, continue to simmer to blend flavors.

While the soup is on its final simmer, Bring a pot of water to boil to poach the eggs. In the meanwhile, toast the sliced bread until lightly browned. Take the remaining whole garlic cloves and run them over the toasted sides (toasted bread does a remarkably good job of grating the garlic into a fine paste to coat). Place a slice of toasted garlic bread at the bottom of each of 4 bowls.

Poach the eggs in the boiling water (if you're not an experienced poacher (hee), you can find a nice tutorial here). Season the soup to taste, and ladle a serving over each bread-filled bowl. Top with a poached egg and serve.


  1. om nom nomn omnmmnmnmn

  2. Beauty in the eye of the beholder, this soup has everything I love! Man, Deena, I think I have half your blog bookmarked!

  3. Ariel: Indeed!

    Cakewalk: Thanks for giving my homely soup a little love. And I'm currently lusting over your creampuff tower. It's one of my absolute favorite things, and I can't imagine having one all to myself on my kitchen counter. *sigh*