South of the river Tagus (which runs along Lisbon) and north of the Algarve lies a region known as the Alentejo. It’s the hottest and largest region in the country and it produces some excellent vegetables and grains – including tomatoes and delicious bread. I want to share with you a very delicious, simple and healthy soup called Sopa de Tomate à Alentejana, which is typical of that region. It means Alentejo-style Tomato Soup… and yes, it has an egg in it! This soup is hearty without making you feel bloated: it’s a small meal in its own right. Bonus: I love its rustic appearance!
1 large onion, or 2 smaller onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
5 ripe beef tomatoes, peeled
Salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil
1 liter (34 oz.) of water
3 or 4 organic eggs
Slices of day-old bread, ideally Portuguese bread, toasted
1) Finely chop all the onions and garlic cloves.
2) In a deep pot, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot, add the onions, garlic and bay leaves on a medium-low heat. Let them golden.
3) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the tomatoes. Once the onions are golden, add the tomatoes to the pot.
4) Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, stir, add a 2-4 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir again.
5) Stir the mixture regularly, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Keep doing this until the tomatoes are nearly dissolved.
6) Add the water and bring it to a boil. Check for flavor and add salt, pepper, sugar, whatever you think it needs. Remove the bay leaves.
7) Now you have 2 options: Option A – add each (cracked) egg into a different areas of the soup so the eggs don’t touch each other, or Option B – add a (cracked) egg into the soup and stir quickly so it creates cooked egg strings. Repeat for each egg. Option A results in whole, poached eggs. Option B gives a more uniform texture to the soup with strands of poached egg. If you try A, but it breaks up, improvise B. There’s no wrong option here, it’s a matter of preference.
8) Place the bread on each soup plate and pour soup. If you kept the eggs whole, make sure to give each person an egg. Serve hot and enjoy!