Foodie Friday: Family Recipes

Christmas is the time for traditions and this includes traditions in the kitchen. Anyone who cooks (and even many who don’t) have at least one recipe they make every year that has been handed down the generations. Whether it’s for a pie, cookie, salad or entree, it’s a family favorite and it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without it.

My family honors its Portuguese heritage with a soup recipe that I make every year around this time. Kale is one of the primary ingredients and it begins showing up in the stores around Thanksgiving. My version of the soup is very hearty with roast beef, Italian sausage, chorizo and potatoes, along with the kale. Everyone who has ever tried it loves it. I’ve never heard one person say they didn’t like it or even “it’s okay.”

So at Thanksgiving, my mom, my aunt and I were sitting at the table after dinner and Mom asked if either of us had made this soup yet this year. Then we got to talking about how she had been to Massachusetts once and was talking about the recipe with a cousin. When they delved into details, though, they realized they had two very different ways of making the same soup. And another cousin had even a different way. The recipe had come from the Azores from the same woman, but as it was passed down, each person apparently made their own tweaks.

My hearty recipe is similar to my mother’s, I think – it’s been so long since I’ve had hers and I may have made my own adjustments. But I know ours isn’t quite like what my grandmother used to make – hers had less meat and didn’t use chorizo, but linguica, a Portuguese sausage. Our cousins’ versions had very little meat, but white beans. I remembered watching Emeril Lagasse make it once on TV and his was also different than ours, but more like our cousins’. Now, though, I see he has one similar to our recipe.

And what’s even funnier, we’ve always called it “coivis” but I can’t find that term anywhere on the Internet, spelled any kind of logical way. I know that’s what Emeril called it, too, because that’s what caught my attention at the time of the show, but now all his recipes simply say “kale soup.” So even the name is being lost in the modern world.

How funny that everything, even our favorite hand-me-down recipes, change over time. Then again, you can have the situation I remember reading about one time:

A young woman was making a beef roast in the oven and she cut the ends off the roast before placing it in the pan. Her new husband asked why she did that because his mom never did. She said it was part of the recipe her mother gave her and that’s how her mom “always did it.” Curious, though, she asked her mother the reason for cutting off the ends and Mom said it was part of the recipe her mother gave her and that’s just how her mom “always did it.” So the young woman called Grandma and asked why she cut the ends off the roast. “Oh, well, honey, we had very small ovens back in my day. I had to cut off the ends so the roast would fit!”

So, even as some recipes may change drastically, others stay the same even when they don’t have to because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

Do you have any family favorites that have been handed down? Do you know if it’s still the same as the original or has it been changed? Do you tweak recipes, even old family favorites, to give it your own touch?

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5 Responses to Foodie Friday: Family Recipes

  1. Jill says:

    Just stopping by to tell you how much I enjoy your books. I randomly came across Promise and thought it looked intersting, so I downloaded it. I could not put it down! I was very happy to learn that Purpose was already out, so I downloaded that one as well! I really like that your books are more of a love story than anything else. I found myself laughing and crying along with Alexis. I can’t remember the last book that had that effect on me. Is Devotion the last book or are you going to keep going? I really hope it’s not the last one!

  2. Sarah Erhart says:

    We have many family recipes which we enjoy at various times in the year. One of my favorites is a barbecue recipe which has been passed down through my mom’s family, her grandmother used to make it and speak of it. I’ve kept the recipe as close to the original as possible, but it did get tweaked a few times while we were living in Bolivia South America and didn’t have all the ingredients the sauce calls for. I’ve used the recipe for beef, pork (wild and domestic), and even mountain lion (it tastes like pork, in case you wondered,lol). Another favorite is a hearty italian sausage stew which comes from my father’s family. I don’t know the name, although I could probably make the stew while blindfolded. I love finding out where a dish came from, and hearing about other families favorite old recipes! Love your foodie fridays! <3, Sarah

  3. Heather says:

    I just love Christmas traditions, especially when they’re food related! Ours would have to be pumpkin bread. It’s one of our favorites and the recipe is quite unique.

  4. Kate says:

    We haven’t exactly got a “hand-me-down” recipe, but we do have a recipe for rough puff pastry that my Mum modified slightly. We use that for sausage rolls. I always make those. My Mum is better than me at shortcrust, so she makes the mince pies. But we always make them side by side. For us, Christmas starts in the kitchen and it’s a lot more than just cooking. It’s actually spending time together.

    We always try our hands at something new each Christmas. It might be something crafty but it’s often a cooking thing. Last year, we did cookie mixes in jars and they went so well that we’re making more this year. The year before, we tried a gingerbread house and the less said about that, the better. I’m pretty sure that “Peace on Earth and goodwill to all mankind, apart from the guy who invented gingerbread houses” isn’t the traditional seasonal message. 🙂

    The oldest “new” tradition of ours is our chocolates. We used to buy all our Christmas chocolates, and we do still buy loads, but we make so many of our own too. That started off as the “new thing” we wanted to try. 🙂

  5. eliavieira says:

    Hi , just saw your recipe and it seems very similar to one our family traditionally makes as well. I must try your version next time. You probably already know by now, but the word “couve” means kale in Portuguese, couves would be the plural form. That’s what we call it as well – sopa de couves. Thanks for sharing.

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