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10 traditional Portuguese dishes to help you survive winter(with bonus recipe!)

Comfort food is the food that makes us feel good – satisfied, calm, cared for and carefree. It’s food that fills us up emotionally and physically. … Finding comfort in food is a basic human experience.”, Ellie Krieger

This quote by the popular American nutritionist and TV personality captures to perfection what comfort food is all about. Comfort food, simply put, is a culinary hug. It can evoke a sense of nostalgia and, in a way, of well-being. It's the food we crave when feeling down, stressed, or simply seeking a familiar taste of home. During winter, it’s normal for all of these feelings to get somewhat magnified.

As the chilly winter months descend upon us, the allure of hearty, comforting meals becomes irresistible. In Portugal, where culinary traditions run deep, a diverse array of dishes perfectly embody the essence of comfort food. These traditional Portuguese creations not only nourish the body but are also a source of warmth and familiarity, transporting us back to childhood memories and cherished family gatherings.

Sopa da pedra | Portuguese “stone” soup

Sopa da pedra, literally “stone soup” is a hearty soup that traces its origins to the Almeirim region, a picturesque town in the municipality of Santarém. Legend has it that, once upon a time, a wandering friar arrived in the town, seeking hospitality. With nothing more than a cooking pot, he approached the locals and requested a small contribution to make a humble soup. The initial refusals turned into curiosity as the friar proclaimed the magical properties of his “stone soup". The addition of a simple stone, along with scraps of meat and vegetables, resulted in a soup so flavorful that it became a symbol of communal sharing and generosity. 

Initially composed of beans, chorizo, vegetables, and the essential stone, sopa da pedra evolved over time to incorporate local variations and seasonal produce. The stone itself is more than a mere utensil to symbolize the communal spirit, emphasizing the idea that a shared meal fosters unity among diverse communities. Don’t worry as if you order sopa da pedra now-a-days around Lisbon, no actual stone will land on your plate. What you can certainly count on is great depth to the flavor and a satisfying bowl soup best enjoyed with bread for dipping. If you are not particularly hungry, a good serving of sopa da pedra, featuring vegetables, meats and legumes, can certainly count as a meal in itself, more than just a mere appetizer! If you are into soup, check our recommendations for other traditional Portuguese soups you should try in our country.

When in Lisbon, order sopa da pedra at:

Escadinhas da Cruz da Pedra

📍Rua Cândido Figueiredo 57, 1500-133 Lisbon

Ofício - Tasco Atípico

📍Rua Nova da Trindade 11k, 1200-301 Lisbon

Loja das Sopas

📍Several locations across Lisbon, usually inside shopping mall food courts

Cozido à portuguesa | Portuguese boiled meats dinner

This dish could be literally translated as "Portuguese stew," but it is often referred to as “Portuguese boiled meats meal”. This hearty dish is one of the recipes of Portuguese cuisine par excellence. Cozido, as it can also be referred to in short, originated in the rural regions of Portugal, where it was a way to use up leftover meats and vegetables. Over time, it evolved into a more elaborate dish, featuring a variety of meats, vegetables, legumes and starches. You can find similar dishes to cozido à portuguesa in other European countries, namely cocido Madrileño in Spain, bollito misto in Italy, or pot-au-feu in France. In the Azores island of São Miguel, a local version of the cozido à portuguesa is cooked underground with naturally occurring volcanic heat and steam - over there, the dish is known as cozido das Furnas, as per the name of the place where it is prepared.

Cozido typically consists of a variety of meats, such as pork (belly, ribs, bacon, pork ear and trotters, as well as smoked sausages such as chorizo, morcela blood sausage and farinheira, made with lard and flour), various cuts of beef, and chicken. The meats are boiled together with vegetables such as carrots, turnips and cabbages, imparting lots of flavor to them. The meats and veggies are served with potatoes, beans and rice, thus completing the meal with the necessary protein and carbohydrates that turn this into a perfect winter dish!

This is not the type of recipe which regular Portuguese families would cook at home all the time. Not because the cooking process is particularly elaborate, but mostly because of the sheer amount of ingredients involved. As such, it’s either a recipe reserved for special occasions or Sunday family meals and, even in most restaurants, you wouldn't normally find cozido à portuguesa as a permanent menu item. Most establishments would reserve a day of the week for cozido, as part of the rotating lunch specials, sometimes as a single serving or, in some cases, even as a buffet so that you can help yourself as much as you’d like to. 

Best places to eat cozido à portuguesa in Lisbon:

Solar dos Presuntos

Where you can eat cozido on Wednesday, the most popular day for this dish besides Sunday

📍Where: Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 150, 1150-269 Lisbon

Adega da Ti Matilde

Serves cozido on Tuesdays

📍Where: Rua da Beneficência 77, 1600-017 Lisbon


Cozido buffet served every Sunday

📍Rua Correia Teles 31, 1350-093 Lisbon 

Favas com entrecosto | Fava bean and ribs stew

Not everyone likes favas, that is broad beans or lima beans, but we consider that when they are well cooked, they are not bitter as many have come to mistakenly think they are. If you’re unsure if you like fava beans, give favas com entrecosto a try while in Portugal. This dish is prepared by slowly simmering the fava beans and pork ribs (that is what entrecosto means in Portuguese) in a rich and aromatic broth. Patience materialized into cooking time removes the bitterness from the legumes and makes the meat fall off the bone tender. 

Variations of this dish include favas com chouriço, featuring paprika infused smoked sausage chouriço instead of ribs, which also imparts great depth of flavor to the stew. Or favas à portuguesa (also known as favas com enchidos), portuguese style fava beans, which normally features a variety of meats alongside the beans, namely pork chunks, chorizo, blood sausage known in Portugal as morcela, and perhaps even other sausages such as farinheira, made from a blend of pork fat, flour and seasonings. Fava bean stews are customarily served with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro, which add a touch of freshness and complement the savory flavors of the stew, cutting through the richness that make them so comforting to begin with.

Top places to eat favas com entrecosto and favas favas à portuguesa in Lisbon:

Estrela d’Ouro (also known as O Cardoso do Estrela d’Ouro)

📍Rua da Graça 24, 1170-270 Lisbon

O Poleiro

📍Rua de Entrecampos 30 - A, 1700-158 Lisbon

O Pepe

📍Rua de Dona Estefânia 7b, 1150-129 Lisbon

Ovos com ervilhas | Green peas stew with poached eggs

Picture this: a sizzling pan of green peas, poached eggs with runny yolks, and slices of smoky Portuguese chorizo. This is a very simple yet undoubtedly hearty dish that will definitely brighten up any winter day. Because it is prepared with humble yet flavorful ingredients, it is a staple of Portuguese home cooking, perhaps more often consumed with the family rather than at restaurants. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come across it while dining out, especially for lunch, as part of the daily specials menu of day to day eateries and traditional Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon.

Ovos com ervilhas, which literally translates as eggs with peas, encapsulates the simplicity and heartiness of Portuguese home cooking. Like many of our country’s culinary wonders, the recipe is believed to have originated in the Alentejo, where locals have historically been masters at transforming simple ingredients into culinary masterpieces, by carefully enhancing flavors with whatever ingredients were available. When making ovos com ervilhas (also known as ervilhas com ovos escalfados), having a tasty chorizo is key to turning something which could be rather bland into a flavor bomb of a dish. The dish is a harmonious blend of peas, simmered in a tomato rich sauce with a base of sautéed onions, topped with perfectly cooked eggs - not too overdone and not too runny either. It's a straightforward combination that speaks volumes about the beauty of uncomplicated, well-balanced flavors. Ovos com ervilhas is not just a dish, it's a celebration of Portugal's culinary history. 

These are the best Lisbon eateries where we recommend eating ovos com ervilhas:

Tasc do Teimoso

📍Rua das Taipas Nº 41 A, 1250-264 Lisbon

50 Maravilhas

📍Rua Gilberto Rola 20, 1350-155 Lisbon

Café Lapo

📍Rua Mal. Saldanha 28, 1200-086 Lisbon

Arroz de pato | Duck rice

The origins of arroz de pato can be traced back to at least the 18th century, in the city of Braga, in the northern Portuguese region of Minho. Over time, the recipe spread throughout Portugal, and it is today considered a national treasure, something often cooked by families at home and also a staple on the menus of traditional restaurants across the country.

The grain which we usually make very good use of to make duck rice is Carolino, a Portuguese type of rice, similar to Arborio in Italy or Bomba in Spain. This short grain rice is starchy and perfect for recipes which involve a lot of broth, as it has a very good capacity to keep absorbing liquids. Besides the rice, duck is of course the other star of the dish. The duck is slowly simmered until tender, resulting in very succulent meat. Portuguese style duck rice is first cooked on the stove pot, together with aromatics such as onions, garlic, and carrots, responsible for adding a certain depth and complexity to the dish, and it is later finalized in the oven. Once the rice is layered with shreds of boneless duck, it is topped with chorizo slices, and baked in the oven. Inside the oven, the chorizo releases some of its paprika infused fat over the rice, thus imparting even more flavor to the overall dish. As duck is a rather fatty meat, arroz de pato is commonly served with a little side salad, or at least a couple of fresh orange slices, to help cut through the richness of the food and bring an element of freshness to the palate.

The most popular places to eat Portuguese duck rice in Lisbon include:

O Frade

📍Calçada da Ajuda 14, 1300-598 Lisbon

Pato Real

📍Av. de Berna 37, 1050-038 Lisbon

O Magano

📍Rua Tomás da Anunciação 52A, 1350-328 Lisbon

Feijoada à transmontana | Trás-os-Montes style beans stew

Enjoying a serving of feijoada à transmontana is like embarking on a culinary journey to the northern region of Trás-os-Montes. This hearty and flavorful stew, whose name translates as "bean stew from Trás-os-Montes.", is a testament to the region's culinary heritage. Even though in the general context of the world feijoada is more often than not associated with Brazil, where it is today, without a doubt, one of the national dishes, this rich dish has its origins in rural Portugal, and it was exported across the Atlantic about 500 years ago, during the Age of Explorations. 

Feijoada à transmontana is a culinary masterpiece that showcases a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. The star of the show is, undoubtedly, the beans, in Portuguese feijão, responsible for naming the recipe. These legumes, typically red kidney beans, are soaked overnight and then simmered to perfection in a rich broth infused with aromatic vegetables and spices. The heart of the dish lies in the variety of meats that are layered into the stew. Pork, beef, and sausage are common choices, adding a depth of flavor and a touch of succulence. These meats are often smoked or cured, imparting a smoky or savory essence to the stew. To complement the hearty meats and beans, cabbage and carrots are added, providing a balance of textures and a touch of sweetness. Feijoada is now-a-days prepared all over Portugal, making very good use of regional enchidos, that is, the range of cured cuts and smoked sausages found in every part of our country, which follow the name basic methods of preparation but have their own peculiarities nonetheless. As if feijoada wasn’t filling enough on its own, it is usually served with steamed white rice, which is ideal to soak the juices of the stew.

These are the top 3 places to eat feijoada à transmontana in Lisbon:

O Nobre

📍Av. Sacadura Cabral 53B, 1000-080 Lisbon

Salsa & Coentros

📍Rua Cel. Marques Leitão 12, 1700-337 Lisbon

Cabana da Estrela

📍Rua da Bela Vista à Lapa 20, 1200-613 Lisbon

Bacalhau com natas | Creamy salt cod au gratin

Portugal has been into preserving fish with salt and dry curing techniques since at least the days of the Roman Empire, about 2000 years ago. But the country’s intense love affair with bacalhau, that is, salted cod, only started during the 16th century. This is when Portuguese sailors discovered the abundance of codfish in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, as this is a species which is not found in Portuguese waters. Because of its taste, texture and versatility, cod soon became a staple in the Portuguese diet, finding its way into a myriad of dishes, as the popular saying goes “there are 365 bacalhau recipes in Portugal…one of each day of the year!”.

Bacalhau com natas, a dish which consists of shredded boneless cod with potatoes and onions, baked in the oven drenched in cream and, often, topped with a layer of cheese to melt, is a contemporary recipe. You’d know so as old time recipes from Portugal wouldn’t normally include dairy products like their more modern counterparts often do. Because of its pungent smell and peculiar stringy texture, salt cod is an acquired taste for most. But bacalhau com natas presents an easy opportunity to start exploring one of Portugal’s favorite ingredients, as the mix is very smooth and honestly flavorful for most tastes. If you are seeking a taste of authentic Portuguese comfort food, then bacalhau com natas is a must-try dish. With its rich, creamy texture and salty notes, bacalhau com natas embodies the heart and soul of Portuguese cuisine. 

These are the best places to try bacalhau com natas in Lisbon:

Laurentina, O Rei do Bacalhau

📍Av. Conde Valbom 71A, 1050-067 Lisbon


📍Zona Ribeirinha Norte, R. da Pimenta 45, 1900-254 Lisbon

Solar do Bacalhau

📍Rua do Jardim do Regedor 30, 1150-193 Lisbon

Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo | Oven-baked salt cod with mayonnaise

Bacalhau is one of the culinary heroes of Portugal, so it’s a little hard for us to just select a couple of salt cod dishes which would be ideal for winter. There are certainly many more, from simple boiled cod with veggies, known as bacalhau com todos, to loins of cod grilled over charcoal (bacalhau na brasa) to saucy cod rice (arroz de bacalhau). Yet we feel that bacalhau à Zé do Pipo is not only one of the most original salt cod recipes out there, it is also one that has great potential to comfort us on a cold winter day. 

Legend has it that Zé do Pipo, a charismatic chef with a flair for reinventing classic recipes, put a twist on the traditional bacalhau preparations. In reality, Zé do Pipo is the nickname of José Valentim, a restaurateur from Porto who developed the recipe in the 60s. Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo is a creamy blend of codfish, mashed potatoes, and a heavenly layer of mayonnaise. Being an oven baked dish, it surprises many because of the generous addition of mayo but trust us when we say that, once it has spent some time in the oven, getting a golden layer on top and a melty texture right underneath, the mayonnaise is truly heavenly!

Where to eat bacalhau à Zé do Pipo in Lisbon:

A Casa do Bacalhau

📍Rua do Grilo 54, 1900-706 Lisbon

Faz Frio

📍Rua Dom Pedro V 96, 1250-094 Lisbon

As Salgadeiras

📍Rua das Salgadeiras 18, 1200-396 Lisbon

Rancho | Chickpeas, meats and pasta stew

Packed with protein and carbs, rancho is comfort food at its finest. It consists of a humble concoction of beans, potatoes, chorizo, veggies, and a medley of slow-cooked meats. As if all of these ingredients swimming together in a rich broth didn’t account for enough calories, more often than not, small pasta such as macaroni is also added to a pot of rancho.

This dish is a materialization of Portugal's agrarian past and the ingenious ways folks turned simple ingredients into something extraordinary. So what makes rancho, also known as rancho à portuguesa, a must-try during winter in Portugal? It's not just the flavor explosion, it's the history infused in every spoonful. Born in rural Portugal back in the day, and popular until today, especially in the region of Trás-os-Montes, this stew wasn't just about sustenance, it was a symbol of communal gatherings and festivities. The dish migrated from countryside kitchens to Lisbon's buzzing food scene, where you can find it today primarily in very typical establishments and, most of all, as a daily special in certain eateries, which often announce their prato do dia handwritten on a paper tablecloth and hang on the windowshop to allure passing byers and the general hungry crowds.

Best restaurants for rancho in Lisbon:

Zé dos Cornos

📍Beco Surradores 5, 1100-591 Lisbon

O Barão

📍Rua da Quinta do Morgado LT53 LJ3, 1800-323 Lisbon


📍Rua Alexandre Ferreira 34 A/B, 1750-012 Lisbon

Carne de porco à Alentejana | Alentejo style pork meat

Carne de porco à Alentejana is an iconic dish representing the Alentejo region's culinary creativity. This unusual combination of pork and clams is a testament to Portugal’s coastal and agricultural heritage. The pork is marinated in garlic, paprika, and white wine, then fried until golden - see recipe below. Clams are added at the end and cooked in the flavorful juices. The dish is typically served with cubed fried potatoes, which soak up all the flavorful juices from the meat and the shellfish too. The final touches before serving consist in a garnish of abundant fresh coriander, as it is customary with many dishes from the Alentejo, which bring a touch of freshness to the overall experience.

Similar dishes to carne de porco à alentejana include carne de porco à portuguesa and even carne de porco com castanhas. Carne de porco à portuguesa is indeed almost identical, but does not include the shellfish. The meat is marinated just the same, and also served with cubed fried potatoes, topped with chopped Portuguese style pickles, which would normally include cauliflower, carrots and olives. Carne de porco com castanhas, also known as rojões com castanhas, specially in the Minho region, features pork meat with chestnuts (in Portuguese castanhas), and it is also a go-to for Portuguese folks on chilly days. If you come to our country, allow for these simple yet hearty flavors to also captivate you!

Sample Alentejano style pork meat with clams in Lisbon at the following restaurants:

O Galito

📍Rua Adelaide Cabete 7, 1500-441 Lisbon

Solar dos Nunes

📍Rua dos Lusíadas 68, 1300-366 Lisbon

O Magano

📍Rua Tomás da Anunciação 52A, 1350-328 Lisbon

BONUS RECIPE:  Alentejo style fried pork with clams

Carne de porco à alentejana is a Portuguese classic that's surprisingly simple to make, yet it’s bound to surprise your friends if you serve it at a party. If not, it’s also great as a weekend meal for your family at home. So nourishing and delicious!

Ingredients to serve 4:

800g boneless pork cubes

800g clams

1 cup white wine

500g potatoes

4 garlic cloves

2 tbsp pork lard

2 bay leaves

4 Tbsp paprika paste (masa de pimentão) or 1 Tbsp paprika powder

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Enough vegetable oil for frying

A handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Portuguese pickles and/or olives for garnish

How to prepare carne de porco à Alentejana at home:

Start by soaking the clams and giving them a good wash to remove any potential sand hiding inside the shells. 

Meanwhile, marinate the pork: in a bowl, mix your pork cubes with white wine, bay leaves, paprika, salt, and pepper. If time allows, leave the meat in this flavorful marinade overnight, inside the fridge. If not, allow for the meat to absorb as much flavor as possible, during at least a couple of hours.

The actual cooking process starts by heating up your pan and melting the lard with olive oil. Throw in your marinated pork (save the marinade) and sear it until it's got that gorgeous golden glow.

Toss in the clean clams, pour in the marinade juices, and let everything cook together until the meat is tender, and the shellfish are ready. You will know it is indeed cooked through when the clams pop open wide.

In parallel, peel and cube the potatoes. When shopping for tubers, give preference to those advertised as being of good quality for frying. Deep fry the cubed potato until golden and crispy on the outside.

Once the meat and clams are done, toss in the fried potatoes, mix everything up in the flavorful juices, sprinkle in the finely chopped fresh coriander, and give it a good stir. If you’d like to complete the dish with some pickles, garnish once on the serving plate. Now you are ready to relish into some truly authentic Portuguese flavors in your own kitchen!

To learn how to prepare other typical recipes from Portugal, savory and sweet, sign up for our cooking classes in Lisbon.

As the chill of winter sets in, comfort food becomes a staple in many cultures, and Portugal is no exception. If you travel to Lisbon this winter, we hope you get to taste several of these hearty stews and reinvigorating dishes. Share your culinary findings with us, tagging your Instagram photos with #cookinglisbon 

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Cooking Lisbon

Rua Bernardim Ribeiro, 9

​1150-068 Lisboa, Portugal

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