Holy Ghost Sopas

This post was written by past Catholic Cuisine contributor Amy.

Two weeks is Pentecost, which for the Portuguese is also time for Holy Ghost Sopas!

If you live anywhere near a Portuguese community you know what I am talking about. All over the country there are huge festas that the Portuguese Americans host and each one of these you are going to find Sopas.

The best recipe for Holy Ghost Sopas I have found is in the cookbook: Foods of the Azores Islands by Deolinda Maria Avila. This is not easy to get your hands on but it is very worth it. There are some great holiday foods in here, which often have religious significance.

As for the sopas!

4 lbs chuck roast
1 small onion minced
10 cups of water
1 Tablespoon pickling spices
½ cinnamon stick (we don’t use this)
½ cup (red) wine
1 can tomato sauce (she calls for 1/3 cup)
1 cabbage head (I use 2)
1 loaf of French Bread (Yeah right, you are going to want more of this, it is the best part!!)
Fresh mint sprigs

Bring water to boil and add meat and spices tied in a cheesecloth or in a tea ball. Cook about three hours until meat is tender. Cut cabbage into fourths and add to pot. Cook for about 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bread and place in 9x13 pans. On top of bread place mint springs. You don’t need a lot, just a few two or three per 9x13 inch pan.

When meat and cabbage is done, remove tea ball and pour broth over bread. Serve with meat and cabbage.

Now, some people might think… wet bread?? Oh yeah! I couldn’t believe it either the first time I tried it, but honestly that is the yummiest part. You will start stalking Portuguese people trying to find out when the local festas are!

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  1. So Amy, do you know of any festas in our area??? :)

  2. sounds delicious and the cookbook sounds great, too. I found that it's still being reprinted, $19.50 with shipping, see http://www.foodsoftheazoresislands.com/ Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Oh cool! I didn't know it was still being printed!

    You know about the Festa in our area, Jessica! You were there last year! :)It is alwasy the second (hmmm, or first) weekend in August. I will keep you updated! They will be starting in California on Pentacost, though.

  4. I know about that one... I was just hoping there was another one for Pentecost!! It was so much fun!

  5. My husband is half Portuguese and his family fixes this on ocassion - I have to say that I have have a hard time getting past the soggy bread, ha ha, though it is tasty.

    Great post - I'm glad you are letting people know about this great celebration!

  6. I think most of the ones around here are in California. There is a huge one... oh I can't remember... I'll as my mother in law. I think near Merced, California on the weekend of Pentacost.

  7. Thanks for the recipe - it was very good. (My husband said, "You can make this again".) Instead of pouring the broth over the bread, though, we used individual bowls and dipped it, which the kids loved.

  8. Stephanie - dipping sounds like a great idea. I bet I could stomach that - there is just something about soggy bread I can't really handle. ha ha

    1. We always used stale bread in it. My Godmother was Portugues and I have her recipe.

  9. The "huge one" you are referring to happens in Gustine, CA. Happened yesterday actually. I didn't go. Way too many people for such a small town. People come from all over the world to attend it, and for that weekend, there are more tourists than residents in that town. A few years ago, I had to park out in the country and walk a couple miles to the hall.

    I know its a tradition spanning generations, but I have always felt they should move this one to either a bigger city, or build a larger hall with a parking lot somewhere in the country near Gustine.

    Funny how basic the recipe is from the Portuguese cook book.

    Also funny how some despise the "soggy bread". Half the people in my family love sopas, the other half hate it. I have a cousin who will go the festas but only eat the meat.

    Sad thing about this tradition is a lot of the old cooks have passed away, and you can tell just by eating the sopas at these events. Quality has dropped, but its still good.

    Greatest sopas I ever ate was in Atwater, CA in the 80s. It was red. Obviously heavy on the tomato sauce. Worst sopas I ever ate was in Livingston(any year). For some odd reason they use butter in it, and its vomit inducing. Will never go there again. Another festa to avoid is the one in Oakdale, CA. My dog wouldn't even eat their sopas. Seriously.

  10. My grandparents were from Saint Michael in the Azores. One was from the town named Salga and the other was from the town named Achadinha. Our family makes sopas, but they add peeled potatoes and they use Portuguese bread instead of French bread. They do not use the cinnamon stick, wine, and tomato sauce.

  11. I was raised in gustine. Very big fiesta my family not portugese but my dad volunteered in kitchen every year. I make this all the time I married a ma n from colletta ee went to all places to eat but when I cook I never put cinnamon its great