What’s Cooking in… Portugal

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 51 of the July 2017 issue.
Presenting a serving of Sopa Caldo Verde, Chef Duarte Catela of the Cozinha Velha – Queluz Restaurant.

Twenty years ago, my husband, John, and I explored the west coast of Portugal by car. There were amazing sights to see along the way, including Sintra’s Pena Palace with its unique mixture of neo-Manueline, neo-Gothic, neo-Islamic and neo-Renaissance architecture. It looked like a page out of a fairy tale. 

Besides the Pena Palace, what stuck in my memory were the pousadas (historic places, including castles, that are now hotels) and the subject of this month’s column: sopa caldo verde

In October 2016, John and I were in Lisbon and decided to spend a couple of nights in the pousada that was closest to the airport, Pousada Palácio de Queluz (Largo do Palácio Nacional, 2745-191, Queluz, Lisbon, Portugal; phone +351 218 442 001 or, in the US, 888/441-4421; www.pousadas.pt/en/hotel/pousada-queluz), which was located about 20 minutes from the airport. 

We paid $91 a night, with breakfast, which was a special rate for seniors and for staying four nights.

Pousada Palácio de Queluz formerly housed the Royal Guard of the Court. It is directly across the street from Palácio Nacional de Queluz, Portugal’s Versailles and a residence of the royal family until 1908, when the state took it over. We especially loved walking in the palace gardens.

Concerts are often held in the elegant ballroom. Sadly, the only performance being held during the time we were there was sold out.

The marble prep table from the former kitchen of Palácio Nacional de Queluz — Lisbon.

Also on the palace grounds, across the street from the pousada, is Cozinha Velha - Queluz Restaurant (Queluz, Lisbon; phone +351 21 435 6158), a beautiful restaurant open to the public. At one time, it was the kitchen for the palace. There are still artifacts from the former days, including the massive 12-ton marble prep table that now holds a buffet of luscious desserts. 

John and I had dinner there one night. It was elegant. We both enjoyed the sopa caldo verde ($6), and John loved the duck leg with mushrooms ($20).

In the morning, we had breakfast in our pousada, and on our way back to our room we saw a gentleman in chef’s attire — black-checked pants and chef’s jacket — chatting with the receptionist. We approached, and he asked if we had enjoyed breakfast. 

I said that all was fine, then asked him, “Do you make that green soup? I had it 20 years ago and loved it. I never forgot it.” 

He replied, “If you come over to the restaurant at 3 this afternoon, you can watch me make it.” 

That afternoon, we watched Duarte Catela, Chefe de Cozinha (Head Chef), make Sopa Caldo Verde. F

Sandra Scott can be reached by email at sanscott@gmail.com.

The architecturally fascinating Pena Palace in Sintra. Photos by Sandra Scott
Pousada Palácio de Queluz.
The Palácio Nacional de Queluz as seen from one of its gardens.
In what was once the kitchen of the Palácio Nacional de Queluz, the Cozinha Velha - Queluz Restaurant now offers elegant dining.
The Palácio Nacional de Queluz as seen from one of its gardens.
Cooking the onions, potatoes, garlic and chorizo.