It is the season for Festas do Espirito Santo all across the Azores and throughout Portuguese communities here in the U.S. Festas do Espirito Santo translates to Festival of the Holy Spirit.
Growing up in Idaho in our Portuguese community, I looked forward to the week-long celebration of the Holy Ghost. There were prayers all week, culminating in a wonderful weekend filled with processions, bazaars, sweet bread, “sopas,” auctions, and a lot of dancing. I loved it all!
In regards to the food, it just couldn’t be beat. The sweet bread I made a few weeks ago would be served all along the rows of tables just begging to be devoured, and the men would bring large bowls of the “sopas” to the tables with sides of meat, potatoes, and cabbage. Below is a description of this gathering of eating sopas and in taking part of this religious tradition and celebration.
“The function, is the gathering of neighbors, family and friends for a ritualized meal that includes invited guests of the principal who took on a promise to the Holy Spirit. The meal consists of the Holy Spirit Soup, a meat broth that is applied to buttered bread and tempered with mint leaves, either accompanied with the cooked meat used in its preparation, Portuguese sweet bread and sweet rice puree sprinkled with cinnamon. There are many variations on the meat broth recipe that includes the methods of preparing the soup, the availability of side dishes or the consistency of the soup.”
So in celebration and in honor of the Festival of the Holy Spirit, below is the recipe for sopas, courtesy of Tia Emma. I want to thank her granddaughters and my cousins, Ashley, Tracy, and Katy, for taking down this recipe from her. It’s been SUPER helpful!
I hope everyone has a wonderful week!
Yields: 4-6 servings
Tip: Salt the roast the night before and refrigerate overnight.
4 pounds bone-in roast
1 linguiça sausage link, cut in half
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon allspice
2 tablespoons paprika
3 teaspoons mint sprigs, roughly chopped
Bunch of kale, removed from stems and chopped fine
1 medium head of cabbage, quartered
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt, to taste and to use as a rub
1 loaf of french bread, thickly sliced
pinch of cinnamon
1) In a large roasting pot or Dutch Oven, add the roast, linguiça, onion and garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Add wine and lower heat to medium.
Cook, covered, for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the roast.
2) Once meat is cooked to your liking and tender, remove from the pot, and set aside. To the water, add allspice, paprika, and 2 teaspoons mint, and stir together.
3) Cut the meat off the bone and place back in the pot (with or without the bone – your preference). Cook for 5 minutes, and then add kale, cabbage and potatoes. Cook until kale and cabbage are tender and the potatoes cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
4) Layer the slices of bread in a large bowl. Place the remaining mint sprigs on top, and lightly dust the bread with cinnamon and paprika. Ladle the soup broth over the bread and allow it to soak it up. Place kale, cabbage, meat, and potatoes on a platter to serve alongside the soup.
I was born in Faial, Azores. 1 of 6 children. We were raised eating Portuguese food. My parents planted all of our veggies and raised cows, pigs, chickens and rabbits. We were very healthy then. Some how hamburgers and and a lot of processed foods were introduced to us after we left home. It was much simpler and easier to go to a fast food place than to make meals at home. Now we’re getting back to our beloved Portuguese food, although some things are a little harder to find.