About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, July 03, 2006
Portuguese Dreaming
Over the course of the weekend, I was obliged to work around our big stock pot that was on the stove, containing about two litres of stock. Asked my wife D what was in it and she told me it was pork stock and if I liked, I could use it. 'If I liked' is not an idle throw away line in our household, it's more like a command, so I strained it to remove some celeriac and bay leaves, along with a residue of solidified fat that doesn't pass through the strainer, then reboiled the stock to have a taste and get an idea of what to do with it. It had a lovely porky flavour with a slight stickiness to the broth, yum.

Now pork stock is not all that common in many kitchens, and until I married D, it was certainly a stranger to my kitchen. So what to do with it? D uses it for her Eastern European soups, a good starting point. A quick scout of the fridge revealed some fresh borlotti beans, a green and red capsicum, some smoked pork belly and a quarter of a cabbage. Hmmm, what about something Portuguese?

Don't ask me, I've never been to Portugal, don't own a single Portuguese cookbook, so long as you don't count the Portuguese chapter in my Konemann Culinaria, so why I felt so inspired is a mystery even to me. Maybe it was because of the world cup, an omen of sorts. Anyway I dragged out the Culinaria to check it out and indeed the Portuguese do use these ingredients, as do half a dozen other nations. But after a quick vote of one, I decided this soup was definitely Portuguese inspired. It probably just needed the addition of a few clams to make it fully authentic.

The end result was a soup that had felt like it had done time, quite a lot of time....in Biggles smoker. There were a few different smoky flavours in it - smoked pork belly, char roasted capsicum and just to be sure, some smoked paprika. The smoked flavour wasn't over the top, rather it was alluring and nicely set off the creaminess of the beans and earthiness of the cabbage, a real layering of flavours that was rich and deep.

From time to time, food writers will flag a recipe as one that you should really try. That is how I feel about this one. Maybe because it is different to the soups I normally make, but it was completely satisfying to eat and tasted so good.


2 tablespoons lard or oil
250 g (1/2 lb) smoked pork belly or bacon, cut into small lardons (strips)
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 litres (4 p) pork or chicken stock
1 cup cooked borlotti or other beans
1 green capsicum, skin charred and peeled, cut into dice
1 red capsicum, skin charred and peeled, cut into dice
1/4 cabbage, remove core and shred leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper
a few coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Melt the fat or oil in a large pot and gently fry pork belly or bacon until soft, do not crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and sweat the onion in the fat until soft, then add garlic. Sweat another minute and add both paprikas and stir over gentle heat for another minute. Pour in the stock, add the pork belly, beans, capsicums and cabbage. Cook at a simmer for twenty minutes, season, go heavy on the pepper and serve in bowls garnished with coriander leaves.
  posted at 11:13 am

At 10:16 am, Blogger Gigi said...

It sounds heavenly ~ rich and satisfying, and I will copy and try it. Only later. It was 97 degrees here yesterday, and the only sweating going on in my kitchen is by me. Going out for KFC... :)

At 8:52 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi pentacular, looks like its got them through to the semi's.

Hi gigi, I can just see you on your patio with a (insert suitable alcoholic drink), watching a glorious sunset, no dishes to do - thanks Colonel - and waiting for a cool evening breeze.


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