Have your Açorda and eat it too: All about the most famous soup of the Alentejo!

Have your Açorda and eat it too: All about the most famous soup of the Alentejo!

All Cycling Centuries Bike Tours feature exceptional local food, some meals are familiar and others decidedly not so. Few culinary delights could appear less appealing than Açorda . This very Portuguese bread soup has been likened to stuffing or chowder, and don't knock it until you have tried.

 Acorda Alentejana - Portuguese soup

Even the most squeamish eaters come round to the delicious blend of bread, drippings, garlic and cilantro, which is making my mouth water even as I write these lines! No better place to sample Açorda than along our delectable Alentejo Bike Tour , where food and wine are simply to ride for.

How do you say Açorda?

The basic version of açorda (pronounced “uh-soar-duh”), the kind you find in Portuguese homes who have been making this comfort staple dish since the 1940s, consists of a coriander and garlic broth bulked up with stale chunks of bread.

The dish derives its origins from Portugal’s Arab occupation, which lasted from the 8th century to the 13th century. (The name Açorda comes from the Arabic “ath-thurda,” which means “bread soup.”)

A Bowl of History

Made up of three provinces - Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo, and Alentejo Litoral - Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region, encompassing approximately a third of the country's total land area. It is roughly comparable in size to Belgium, covering an area of around 31,650 square kilometers (12,220 square miles).

Though expansive in size, Alentejo is home to a sparse population of just 760,000 inhabitants, making it 15 times less populous than Belgium. This low population density gives the region an unspoiled and tranquil charm, with vast landscapes that inspire awe and wonder. Here, the human footprint is light, and nature reigns supreme.

The region's unique scenery of rolling fields, cork oak forests, olive groves, and undulating vineyards has not only been the muse for artists and poets but also a rich playground for flora and fauna.

The Alqueva Dam, Europe's largest artificial lake, adds to the region's allure, providing a haven for birdwatchers and watersports enthusiasts.

Alentejo's local gastronomy is a testament to its cultural richness and agrarian roots, having been shaped over the ages by various influences. The landscape's abundance has spawned a culinary tradition known for its hearty flavors and rustic elegance.

From the earthy richness of black pork, lamb stews, and bread-based soups to the delicate notes of local herbs and olive oils, the cuisine is a blend of simplicity and sophistication.

The influence of the sea can also be felt in Alentejo's coastal areas, where dishes often feature fresh fish and seafood. Meanwhile, the region's wines, particularly reds, have won international acclaim, with many wineries offering tours and tastings.

Historically, Alentejo's gastronomy has been influenced by its strategic location at the crossroads of different civilizations. The Romans, Moors, and other Mediterranean cultures have left their mark on the food, introducing spices, techniques, and flavors that are now integral to the region's culinary identity.

The local economy of Alentejo remains rooted in agriculture, with the cultivation of cereals, cork, olives, and wines playing a pivotal role. The region's traditional farming methods, coupled with innovative sustainable practices, have helped maintain the purity of the land.

As an agricultural region with a history of poverty and hardship, and after more than 40 years under a dictatorship, Açorda was a dish some workers would eat more than once a day.

In hard times it would have three ingredients as simple as water, bread and garlic when even olive oil was considered a luxury. ‘Rich’ families could add fish, eggs, potatoes, bell peppers to share among the family.

Culinary traditions such as Açorda now serve as a reminder of the resilient and hard working community and seeing modern incarnations of the dish help to revive and restore the vibrant Alentejo identity and pride.


A Bowl of Portuguese Açorda Soup with Cilantro, Garlic and Bread

Açorda Alentejana Recipe

Want to try this simple yet powerfully unique dish? Try this recipe* from Rosa Filipe, former chef of the legendary O Barro restaurant in Redondo, Portugal (it has now sadly closed its doors) which was originally found in Saveur magazine*.

She named it ‘Beggars Soup’ because it contains no meat or fish, but these days in fine dining situations, like at the Pousada dos Lóios de Evora in Evora it can be served with cod and even eggs.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of this hearty and rich Alentejano dish by Maria Jose.

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 people)

  • 4 cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • 1⁄2 lb. (225 grams) Portuguese pão bread, or 2 kaiser rolls, cut into 1" cubes and toasted
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Pulse cilantro, garlic, bell pepper, serrano, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add oil; purée to a smooth paste. Place 1⁄2 cup of paste in a bowl. Add bread and toss to coat; set aside.

  2. Heat remaining paste in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. While stirring constantly, slowly drizzle in eggs; cook until eggs are just set, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in bread mixture; serve hot.


Watch Maria Jose at Pousada dos Lóios de Evora make açorda...

Back to blog