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Portuguese Soup: Recipes during the Chilly Winter Months

Portuguese soupEditor’s Note: In December, we posted Beyond ‘Caldo Verde’—Three Soups and Wine Pairings to Try This Season. As per our Catavino reader, Venita Noronha’s request, here are a couple more recipes to enjoy this winter season.

When I was growing up, my mother each evening began with a bowl of soup. Sometimes, I would fuss about it like any kid who just wants to get to the main course. My mother would say, “So uma concha,” which means, just one ladle of soup (she always slyly added more despite my moaning and groaning). But as soon as the soup touched my lips, my protests came to an end. My mother’s soups are a treat; and as I got older, I began to appreciate them even more. I also began to appreciate the stories my mother associated with the soups: how she recalled the strength the hearty country soups gave my grandparents after a long day’s work in the fields in rural Portugal. Over time, my mother’s soup repertoire has evolved from her family’s country concoctions to include rather refined shellfish and fish soups, for example. It would have been unlikely for country folks to get their hands on such delicate soups back then, however, they are commonplace in Portuguese restaurants. For seafood lovers, I have included a recipe for Sopa de Peixe. For the carnivores among us, there’s chicken soup or “Canja,” the kid-friendly soup I never, ever complained about.

Enjoy!

Fish Soup (Sopa de Peixe)

1 Monk Fish or Hake (or whatever other white fish fillets you like)    
2lbs Medium unpeeled shrimp
1 Medium white onion 
2 Garlic cloves 
1 Leek 
4 Tomatoes 
4 Table spoons of extra virgin olive oil 
1 Fish flavored cube of Knorr 
1 Tea spoon of black pepper corns 
2 Table spoons of heavy cream
Salt to taste 
Couple tiny drops of PiriPiri (or hot sauce)
Fresh parsley

Preparation:

In a large pot add 3 liters of water and add the salt, Knorr cube, garlic, pepper and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling throw in the shrimp, skin on, and let cook for 5 minutes. Then remove the shrimp from the pot and run through cold water, set aside. Reserve the stock and add to it the fish and cook on a low simmer. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp and add half of them back into the pot with the fish. Cook for about 15 minutes. In a separate pot, add the olive oil, diced onion, leek and tomatoes. Saute and cook down into a sauce, then add this mixture to the original pot and let cook for a couple more minutes. Add the heavy cream and stir on low heat, shouldn’t be neither too thick nor too liquidly. Check the salt. Chop up the rest of the shrimp and add. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Chicken Soup (Canja)

1 Whole chicken 
250mg of couscous or similar pasta 
1 Medium white onion
1 Carrot 
3 egg yolks
1 stick of celery 
Parsley 
Salt to taste

Preparation:

In a large pot add a whole chicken, cover it with water and start cooking. Add salt to taste, the chopped onion, grated carrot and the egg yolks (beat them slightly before adding), add the diced celery and a few parsley leaves. Once it all boils, remove the chicken and reserve. With a hand blender, pure the rest of the items in the pot. Add about 3 liters of water, and once it’s boiling add the couscous. Once the couscous is cooked to taste, turn off the heat and shred the chicken. When done, bring the pot back to a low simmer and add the chicken. Check the salt and let boil once again. Then turn off the heat and drizzle with a string of extra virgin olive oil and add more parsley to taste before serving.