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.
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