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  • Writer's pictureElise

Cook Book Club: October's Ingredients Are Coriander/Cilantro & Bay Leaves. The Country: Portugal!

This year we are doing things a little differently. Instead of simply an ingredient, we are highlighting entire cultures. Kits will include a little bit about the country of focus, a recipe that is native to the country, and a unique ingredient or two from that recipe without which, it wouldn't be the same. Most recipes are from writers native to the country covered. I'll post the recipes and information here as well, so let's get cooking!


A Quick Look at Portugal and Coriander

Adapted from various online history and cultural resources including International Living, and Portugal Adventures

We are continuing on our culinary journey through Europe. This month: Portugal. As with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is predominantly Roman Catholic, but saw its share of influx of cultures from Celts and Vikings to Sephardic Jews and Moors. Even so, Portugal is actually one of the oldest countries in Europe. Did you know that coriander and cilantro are the same plant? Cilantro is just the Spanish name for coriander. Here in the US, we tend to differentiate by using the term cilantro to refer to the leaves and coriander to refer to the seeds. This recipe uses the term in the Portuguese manner and refers to the leaves while calling it coriander. They also are the about the only country in Europe that uses coriander/cilantro fresh. It goes back to their history with the Moors, as coriander is a huge part of North African cuisine, where the plant originates. While we will be sprinkling dried coriander/cilantro on in this kit, try the fresh if you get a chance.

The History of the Egg in Portugal

Adapted from various online history resources

Portuguese like their eggs. They find their way into most of their cuisines, even in Michelin Star restaurants. In soups, on steaks, with fish, as the star of their deserts, seemingly everywhere. According to, while the region has seen many civilizations in its time, most have seen eggs as an important food source. From the Romans and Moors for whom eggs were prominent within their cuisine and highly praised, to Catholic nuns during the Discoveries who were often paid by the poor in chickens and not only used egg whites to starch their clothing but when sugar then made its way to the Iberian Peninsula experimented with the leftover yolks and sugar to create signature deserts iconic to Portugal. There was even a time when, traditionally being small and agriculturally based, eggs became of form of currency during a time of strife and dictatorship. To this day, the egg is one of the ingredients most central to many food traditions and memories in Portugal amidst simple, local ingredients. Cooking eggs may even have reached that of an art.


The Main Event

Sopa de Tomate

(Portuguese Tomato Soup with Poached Egg)

As adapted from Food From Portugal for use by the Brown Deer Cookbook Club


  • 2 1/4 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces

  • 2 medium onions

  • 4 cloves of garlic

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • Salt (to taste)

  • 4 eggs

  • Coriander (to taste) - As indicated by the end of the recipe, the author means cilantro. We are using dried but fresh would be even better

  • ~3 cups water

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Bread cut into pieces (to taste)


  1. In a saucepan, add the olive oil, whole peeled garlic, bay leaf and chopped onion. Sauté over low heat until the onion starts to turn golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the peeled tomatoes cut into small pieces and cook until the tomato start to break down, stirring occasionally. Pour the water, season with a little salt, stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  2. When it starts boiling, reduce to low heat, add the eggs and let them cook about 6-7 minutes. When the eggs are poached to your satisfaction, turn off the heat.

  3. Place the bread cut into pieces at the bottom of a plate and pour the soup with the poached eggs. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.

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