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Portuguese Bread Soup with Shrimp | Açorda de Mariscos

Lisbon’s açorda, or bread soup, is made with fresh seafood—usually prawns (large shrimp)—and tends to have a risotto-like texture. Although city folk traditionally prefer the elegance of white bread, cornbread makes a particularly good seafood açorda, as the sweetness of the crumbled cornbread works well with crustaceans.–Elisabeth Luard

LC Wowsa Note

We’re sitting here studying this recipe and wondering how this hearty seeming dish came to be known as soup. Regardless, though, the taste tends to elicit the same response as its satiating texture and its stunning appearance. And that response? Wowsa!

Portuguese Bread Soup with Shrimp Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (about 1/2 loaf) dried-out broa (Portuguese cornbread), or any sturdy rustic loaf of bread
  • 2 large onions or leeks
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound raw jumbo shrimp, shelled or not, depending on what you please
  • 4 ounces chouriço or chorizo, roughly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste, or 2 to 3 canned anchovy fillets, crushed (optional)
  • A small pat butter (optional)
  • Plenty of chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  • 1. Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a bowl with enough salted water to cover and set aside for a couple of hours.
  • 2. While the bread soaks, thinly slice the onions or leeks and heat them gently in a large skillet over medium heat with 1/3 cup of the olive oil until softened and golden, 30 minutes or so.
  • 3. Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes, toss them in a large, roomy pot with the rest of the olive oil and the garlic, and let them cook down over medium heat until they’re about half the original volume.
  • 4. Crush the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a mortar and add them to the tomatoes in the pot along with the oregano. When the tomatoes have cooked down, push them through a strainer and return them to the pot. Then use your hands to squeeze the bread dry. Stir the soaked, squeezed-out bread and 4 cups cold water to the tomatoes in the pot. Let it bubble up and cook gently for another 20 minutes, then stir in the onion or leeks and their cooking oil along with the shrimp, the sliced chouriço, if using, and the anchovies, if using (the anchovies really accentuate the seafood flavor)
  • 5. Cook the soup for another 20 minutes, until the bread is perfectly amalgamated into—you know, melded with—the broth. Stir in a pat of butter, if desired, and finish with a liberal scattering of fresh chopped cilantro.
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