Nothing cozies up a gloomy, wet night quite like spicy soup

  • Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas is inspired by Portuguese favorite known as "beggar's soup."

      Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas is inspired by Portuguese favorite known as "beggar's soup." Eileen Brown | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/10/2018 10:39 AM

There's nothing better than having a friend invite you over for an impromptu bowl of homemade soup and a glass of wine -- especially when you write a soup column and could use a little spark of creativity.

So a midweek invitation on a gloomy night from my friend Diane was just what I needed to pick up my mood. And her rendition of Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas was the perfect soup recipe inspiration.


Otherwise known as acorda a alentejana, this simple, but elegant meal is a Portuguese favorite and is sometimes called "beggar's soup" because there's no meat in it and is the perfect vehicle for any stale or leftover bread you may have.

However, there's nothing impoverished about this garlicky, lemony, spicy brew served over crusty toasted bread. When you add Parmesan cheese and the protein boost of a boiled egg on top, it becomes the perfect meal.

Best of all, it's easy and perfect for a weekday night. When I tried the recipe myself, the trickiest part seemed to be cooking the egg. That's because I went a little rogue and didn't follow the directions, figuring I knew how to cook eggs.

I should have known better. The recipe came from, the new website and magazine founded by Christopher Kimball. You know who he is -- the guy with the bow tie on public television. The guy with the very exacting scientific methods toward cooking everything. The guy who studies dozens of different ways to mash potatoes. That guy.

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In other words, follow the directions to the letter and you'll be just fine. 177 Milk Street focuses on simple ethnic cuisine, with recipes that are perfect for sharing with family and friends.

Thanks, Diane!

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at

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