Monday, May 9, 2011

Portuguese Sopas

For Mother's Day, I made my mom one of her favorite dishes, a traditional Portuguese soup that we call sopas. This simply means "soup" in Portugese and isn't a very descriptive name, but as a child I had a different term for it. I called it "that soggy bread stuff". Needless to say, I was not a big fan back then.

Often made to serve a crowd, sopas consists of a slow-cooked beef and the broth it's cooked in, ladled over a slice of bread that's been topped with mint leaves. By the time it makes its way to your mouth, the bread has soaked up a lot of the broth and is usually kind of soggy, which didn't appeal much to my palate as a kid.

Now when I make my simplified version at home, each family member can add broth as desired and it always seems to go over well. The warm spices, crusty bread and fresh mint appeal to everyone with whom we have shared this dish. My version is Portuguese people-approved (by my mom and aunt) but less involved that the traditional way of preparing sopas. I don't use wine or marinate the meat, and I prefer a boneless roast to bone-on roast.

Portgugese Sopas

5 pounds beef chuck roast or beef rump roast
3-4 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
1 large Vidalia or yellow Spanish onion, thickly sliced
2 cups finely chopped peeled very ripe tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
2 two medium bay leaves
¼ teaspoon cumin
Coarse salt
1 cabbage, cored and sliced in half (optional)
Mint leaves
Thickly sliced, day old crusty artisan bread

1. Trim the cut of beef and sprinkle with coarse salt.

2. Combine broth, onion slices, tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste and spices in a large pot.
Sprinkle the salt over.

3. Place roast in the pan, making sure liquid comes half-way up the side of the roast. If not, add additional broth.

4. Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and turning the meat occasionally, simmer until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. If desired, add cabbage and cook an additional 1/2 hr.

5. To serve, remove the meat and shred it. Place a thick slice or two of bread in each soup plate topped with a mint leaf or two. Ladle a generous amount of broth over the bread and top it off with pieces of meat.


  1. That actually sounds really good and really easy. Especially good fit because of the cool weather yesterday.

  2. Dang, you gotta open a restaurant!


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