This week at the Farmer’s Market Mr. João had a few bunches of beldroegas for sale. In the Portuguese cuisine the beldroegas, a succulent weed that grows easily in the fields or in our gardens, is added to salads or cooked in soups.
I believe that you may know beldroegas by one of these names: Purslane, Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed, Pursley or Moss rose (any other? Let me know and I will add it, or correct it). Maybe the picture will help:
I was not carving for a salad but for something with poached eggs in it. Like my friend Isabel at Family Foodie says: this obsession for eggs is a Portuguese thing!
But then another question needed to be asked: should I go for the beans or the cheese soup? There are both delicious, and made with the same broth base so what’s the difference? The cheese soup has this unique way of combining a hot soup with fresh cheese, something that I only recall of seeing on Mexican cuisine – the Caldo de queso.
I was willing to make the fresh cheese soup, but family wanted the beans soup and my “customers” always have the final word. I will make the fresh cheese soup on another time because it’s one of that many fun childhood memories I have and want to revive.
In fact not only the Alentejo’s beldroega and the fresh cheese soup is on my to-do list but also the “tomatada” soup. Tomatada is a tomato soup with poached eggs (again), let the tomato season reaches it’s peek and sweetness (which occurs around August/September) and I will share the recipe with you.
By this time you should already realise that there is a poached egg in every soup I mentioned, well that’s a characteristic of many of the Alentejo’s soups, the soup is the meal, and the egg would replace the lack of meat or fish at many households.
You will need for 4 people:
2 bunches of beldroegas (purslane)
800 g potatoes
150 g onion
1 head of garlic
200g white beans – optional (I used pinto beans instead – it’s called “feijão catarino” here in Portugal)
Bread (Alentejo’s bread)
Sea salt to season
1. Peel and slice the onions
2. Wash the beldroegas, handpick just the leaves
3. In a pot add the olive oil and cook the onions until soft
4. Add the beldroegas leaves and let cook until soft
5. Add 2 liters of hot water
6. Add the head of the garlic (remove all the white skin, but leave the skin of each garlic clove)
7. Bring to boil
8. Add the diced potatoes
9. Add the beans (already cooked)
10. Season with salt to your taste
11. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, poach the eggs in the soup. Cover the pot and cook until whites are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
12. Assembling the soup: cut the bread in very thin slices, cover the bottom of the bowl with the bread, spoon the soup and carefully place the poached egg. Serve immediately.
Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)