Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


Sopa de Legumes Portuguesa – Portuguese Vegetable Soup

Hello foodie friends, I hope you’re all having a great 2015 start! With this post I’m not only celebrating the beginning of the new year but also my one year anniversary with “Around the Bowl”, I can’t believe a year and so many soups have gone by! It’s been a pleasure, and I’m tremendously eager to keep sharing many more!

Today’s recipe is brought straight from Portugal, as we received the New Year in Porto, an enchanting city in the Douro river estuary with very kind local people and amazing food! Old and modern collide in a very special way in Porto producing amazing results design and food wise. I was totally inspired by it all: its streets, its old buildings and churches with their blue tiles, the river and the good design shops, cafés and restaurants.

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I was positively overwhelmed by Porto’s good food and the fact that soup was served everywhere; definitely my kind of town! Pastries of all kind are also typical and delicious. The majority of food establishments are open all day long, serving pastries, tea & (great) coffee during the morning and afternoon and complete meals at lunch and dinner. Check out the following places that we loved and the photo galleries for recommendations!

  • Aurora Portuguese Restaurant: a very cozy restaurant with amazing service and great Portuguese dishes with a modern approach. Also ideal to try Douro wines and of course Porto wine! We loved it so much that came back more than once!
  • Casa Grande Chocolatier: in a great location this lovely coffee shop and tea room is an ideal place where to make a stop and try delicious chocolates, cakes and pastries. We also had a light lunch one day, consisting of soup and sandwiches, as good as the sweet treats!
  • Mercearia das Flores: beautiful grocery store and tasting place for local delicatessen, located in one of the most cute streets downtown.
  • Mitica Inspiraçao: probably the most amazing pastry shop I’ve ever been to, everything is very tempting and utterly delicious. Is not centrally located, but it was around the corner from our hotel, so we enjoyed our breakfast there every single day!

Aren’t you hungry now? Then is time for a wonderful vegetable soup, so let’s cook!

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Warsaw – the Delicious Tour

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I’m starting this post at the plane as we fly back from Warsaw where we spent some great holidays time!
The first thing that surprised us was how modern and nice the city centre landscape was; specially considering that only 70 years ago the city was completely destroyed during the Second World War and later rebuilt from its ashes in record time.

The best way to understand this part of its history and the following Soviet domination years is to visit the Uprising Museum: a very modern and visitor’s friendly museum (only 10 years old) that tells the history of the 1944’s Uprising carried out by the brave Polish resistance army and even braver and resourceful Warsaw’s citizens in an attempt to liberate Poland from the 5 years German occupation, that end up with thousands of victims and the massive destruction of the city. Everything is told in a very educationally way, including the moving survivors testimonies. 100% worth the visit!

The rebuilt Old Town and the shopping areas are also great! The parks distributed all around the city are massive, remarkably green and beautifully landscaped.

The second nice surprise came on the food front: the gastronomic offer is huge, varied and cosmopolitan: traditional Polish, traditional with a modern twist and ethnic cuisine from around the world is easy to find at a very good  quality and reasonably priced .

Something I particularly enjoyed was that it is the custom to have soup as a first course, all restaurants offer at least two or three soup options and normally a lunch formula consisting of soup+main course at a very convenient price. Soup is a staple dish in Polish cuisine, and of course I tried as many as I could, so expect some recipes as soon as the autumn arrives!

The first evening we had dinner at Kameralna restaurant, at city centre. We’d spotted it during the morning and weren’t disappointed at all with our choice. The menu offers traditional cuisine and we had Flaki zupy (tripe soup with garlic and marjoram); Zurek zupy (sour rye soup with white sausage and boiled egg) and Sznycel z burakami i kapusta (Schnitzel with beets and sauerkraut), the portions were very generous, great for sharing. The restaurant is very nicely decorated, big and has a beautiful terrace to enjoy at summer. Good service and most importantly nice food!

Our favourite discovery was Kitchen restaurant also at city centre. It has a modern, Mediterranean and eclectic menu with great choices for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Besides it has plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free choices. With an open kitchen, meals are freshly prepared and service is very friendly! We enjoyed a mildly spicy lamb casserole with hummus, Feta cheese and pomegranate and a lunch menu consisting of a potato cream soup and a meat and fresh summer vegetable spaghetti stir-fry. For dessert we had an excellent coconut panna cotta with mango coulis. As it was so good we came back for a full breaksfast: an Israeli formula with scrambled eggs (to die for), hummus, grilled aubergine and Halloumi cheese and a chorizo omelette, fresh squeezed orange juice and great lattes! Totally recommend it!

For an authentic local experience don’t miss “Deja Vu dawniej Retro” in the bohemian Praga district; here we tried the typical pierogi (Polish dumplings), they were home-made and freshly prepared. It has an enchanted atmosphere decorated with vintage furniture. Apparently they only speak Polish but they were very polite and we managed to order! They also serve the lunch formula.

There is a wide selection of tea and coffee bars to choose from that serve excellent teas, coffees, lemonades, shakes, wine, cakes, ice-creams, sandwiches, breakfasts, soups… with a very trendy decor, which I really appreciate. Our favourite one was Shabby Chic in the Old Town: friendly service and excellent drink and food in a romantic unwinding environment. I totally recommend the cakes! We discovered it the first afternoon and liked it so much that came back throughout our stay in Warsaw. Another lovely café is Café Lorentz, next to the Narodowem Museum with a very chic chill out terrace!

When it comes to fast food, apart from the typical Kebabs (had a Turkish one and it was good!), and all the famous fast-food chains, we soon discovered, to our joy, that there are a lot of  Vietnamese Pho restaurants with a varied menu of pho and other Vietnamese dishes. They’re self-service and informal, don’t expect a fancy decoration but be ready to a good tasty Pho! We visited and totally loved these two restauarnts: Tòan Pho (we had beef pho and wonton soup, both excellent!) and Bonjour Vietnam, here we tried Bun Cha, a delicious crab soup! I guess pho success in Warsaw might be because of the Polish and Vietnamese shared love of soup. I reckon that Pho restaurants are the best option for a cheap but comforting, utterly delicious and healthier fast food; I wish I had some nearby! By the way, if you enjoy pho, here’s my humble approach to it.

It caught my attention that a local healthy snack are the sunflower seeds, but unlike the processed ones I’m used to, curiously you can buy the whole flower and eat the seeds out of it directly, isn’t it wonderful?

Finally, Warsaw was the right place to increase my mugs and bowls collection, since they produce beautiful ceramics and we even found a wonderful kettle we couldn’t resist to buy, specially considering that ours had just broken a few weeks before!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour and that it might be useful should you visit this amazing city!


Parihuela – Peruvian Seafood and Fish Soup (and a Great Peruvian Restaurant in Madrid)

My first contact with Peruvian food was many years ago,as a teenager, in a multicultural festival held in my hometown and I have loved it since; its spiciness and perfume surprised and captivated me for ever. Years later I broaden my Peruvian food spectrum in some very good restaurants I found along my way; however, I have not cooked it at home very often. That was until last week, when we were visiting some good friends in Madrid and they invited us to a wonderful Peruvian restaurant we enjoyed so much that I later decided it was about time to try some Peruvian cuisine at home.

But first, let’s talk about this great restaurant in Madrid: is called Tampu Restaurante, not to be missed if you happen to live in or visit Madrid! The place has a great quiet atmosphere with soft lights, music and is nicely decorated. The staff is very kind, they recommended options and explained every dish they brought to the table. The menu is very varied including classic dishes from Peruvian cuisine, like  ceviche or ají and also some chef creations customizing Peruvian flavours and textures and mixing them with other cuisines with a fantastic result. Here’s what we had, everything was delicious, but the duck was definitely my favourite!

Back at home, I decided to start with a soup, of course: Parihuela, a very appreciated seafood and fish soup cooked in a fish broth perfumed with a variety of Peruvian chilli peppers (ajíes). My main concern was to get these sort of chillies, because as I read, trying to replace them with other chillies won’t work. Fortunately, the Arabic grocery store where I usually get some supplies (mainly spices) also has a Latin American section where I found everything I needed. I stocked up, as usual, with everything Peruvian I could find for this and future recipes. I bought:

  • Ají Amarillo paste: made of an orange chilli pepper (Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum), quite pungent. One of the most relevant ingredients to Peruvian cuisine since Inca times, used on a daily basis as a sauce or dish ingredient. Cultivated all around the country*
  • Ají Panca paste: made of a deep red chilli pepper (Capsicum chinense), very mild, also widely used in Peru in sauces and as a spice. Cultivated in the coast*
  • Ají Rocoto paste: made of a yellow or red chilli pepper (Capsicum pubescens), with high pungency. Is the key ingredient in the cevivhe, the Peruvian national dish. Grown in the Andes region, is typical from Arequipa cuisine*
  • Achiote paste: made of the seeds of a subtropical shrub (Bixa orellana) used as a flavour and colour additive in Latin American cuisine. Also known as anatto
  • Culantro paste: made of a herb native to South America. It belongs to the same botanical family (Apiaceae) as cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) but is a different species (Eryngium foetidum)

*Source: The Chile Pepper Institute Newsletter, Volume VI, Number 3, Fall 1997.

I think you should be able to find these ingredients in any Latin Store, or sometimes big supermarkets have international food sections with Latin products as well.

And now, let’s cook!

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A Gastronomic Tour Through the Pyrenees and a Gem in Lourdes

Last Easter Holidays (from Friday to Monday in Catalonia) we head off to Southern France, a favourite destination of ours when we have a short break; it’s reasonable close, we can go by car, every little town has its own charm and the food is delightful! This time we headed the west side and visited Tarbes and Lourdes in the Midi-Pyrénées region, Pau in Aquitaine and  the Pyrenees National Park. We started enjoying the beauty of the Pyrenees already in Aragón, on the Spanish side, everything was green and defrost water was running across the mountains to make the landscape even more pleasant.

On the gastronomic side of the journey, the first great thing about this destination, particularly during Easter, is that they are expert chocolate manufacturers! Every town city centre that we visited had more Pâtisseries than they would possible need regarding the town sizes and most of them have a tea room to enjoy their delicacies on site. So, loving good chocolate as we do, we indulge ourselves every afternoon of our visit. In Tarbes we had a lovely afternoon tea and cake at the Royalty salon de thé. In Pau, we re-found an amazing chocolate shop that we had previously discovered at Bayonne: L’Atelier du Chocolat  that sells a great variety of dark and milk chocolate in bulk. Finally, in Lourdes the lovely and non-touristy Barzu Salon de Thé (25 Pl. Marcadal, 65100 Lourdes).

Restaurant-wise, we went to a Chinese one in Pau (Andong Meas, 7 Rue de Foix, 64000, Pau), that had a reasonable quality/price ratio but wasn’t particularly outstanding, however it’s dumpling soup was delicious!

When travelling we usually survive on frugal snacks most of the time, but we generally spot a few appealing restaurants where to have a proper and delicious full meal and discover some local specialty if possible, and we are often incredible lucky in our choices. However, this time, the last day of our journey we were visiting Lourdes that, in spite the beauty of its Castle, Gave de Pau river, Sanctuary and natural background, does not stand out for its gastronomic offer. The extremely touristy city centre has been taken with endless souvenir shops and brasseries that look like naive-tourists trap. And just when we were about to give in and content with a kebab we discovered this lovely restaurant with a great market menu: Alexandra. Unfortunately, kitchen was already closed for lunch, but we made a reservation and came back for dinner. It was totally worth it! Food was excellent, especially the foie gras and the confit du canard  (I love duck, and no one prepares it better than the French!) and so was the service, not to mention the very convenient price! They also recommended us a great local wine: protected designation of origin Madiran, a discovery to us. Here they are some mouth-watering  pictures of the complete menu:

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Finally, when it comes to breakfast, I like French croissants so much that I keep it simple: un grand café crème avec un croissant au beurre…

I hope this personal review might be useful if you ever visit the area!

Bon appétit!


Moroccan Vegan Rice Soup


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Spice Souk Marrakech

Marrakech is a very stimulating place, a feast of images come to my mind when I remember it: men chatting and having tea in the street, the hectic Souk full of colours and fragrances, the cheerful flowers in its gardens and avenues, women gathering under the shadow of the olive trees at the Ménara Garden, the storks nesting in the Badii Palace, the fresh and beautiful mosaic courtyards, the magnificent Koutoubia Mosque and much more… and of course food was not an exception, absolutely inspiring: refreshing mint tea, fragrant tagines (I specially remember a surprising lamb and fig tagine that I was incapable of imitate at home), fresh taboulé with grilled meat dinners at the lively Djemaa el-Fna square and the fresh grilled seafood and fish in the nearby coastal town of Essaouria.

Since I have visited it, I cook a Moroccan-inspired dish once in a while. Besides, as the Moroccan community is quite big in Spain, I am lucky enough to have an authentic grocery store locally, where I buy couscous, sometimes a delicious Moroccan flat bread, excellent beef and some of my spices like Ras El Hanout, a spices mixture which blend originally vary with the merchant selling it, but it is supposed to have the best of the house. And for us, the ones with not souk nearby, it depends on the brand.  Today I am sharing a vegan rice soup perfumed with Ras-El-Hanout, I hope you get inspired by it and travel with your taste buds to Northern Africa with me!

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Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup


One year ago, my sweetheart and I have been to Istanbul and we immediately fell in love with the city! It was a place I had desired to visit for a long time, since I read “The Museum of Innocence” from the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orham Pamuk, and I was not a bit disappointed when the dream came true, on the contrary, it was even better than I expected! I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of its buildings, particularly by the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the hectic activity in its streets and in the Grand Bazar and the funky and grunge districts like Beyoglu and Kadiköy respectively.  By the way, The Museum of Innocence, does exists and is worth the visit if you have read the book, besides is located at the very charming bohemian district of Çukurcuma, full of antique shops.

Well, let’s get to the point now, the food was amazing too! Once you’ve tried a REAL kebab there, you’ll never feel the same about your local ones. Or baklava! I thought I didn’t like it until I had one piece in Istanbul. And it turned out that soup was a typical dish served everywhere, locals have it for breakfast or at any other time during the day. The most common ones were chicken and lentil soup, served with lemon wedges to season and lots of bread.

We ate very well almost everywhere, but a bit outside the most touristy areas, we found this pearl: Ciğerci Salih Usta restaurant (no website available, so I give you the address: İskender Paşa Mah. Şekerci Sok. No:6 ; Aksaray, Istanbul) that specialises in şiş (meat brochette) cooked in an in sight barbecue. They don’t serve any alcohol, but the ayran (a kind of buttermilk) was a great beverage option. The lentil soup was also delicious, in fact I enjoyed it that much, that a picture of it is the image I chose for my blog header.

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When we came back, I immediately did my research for the Turkish lentil soup recipe, which resulted very simple but utterly delicious. This time I added some cabbage to the usual recipe, and really liked the result. My granny’s best friend was from Syria and taught her a lentil stew with cabbage that she kept on cooking for the rest of her life, so to me, lentils and cabbage are matching and dear flavours. Here we go with it!

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