The farming town of Almeirim is not far from Lisbon - and just outside of Santarém. But Almeirim is also home to the famous sopa da pedra (stone soup). The guarded recipe dates back generations, and the soup is the reason many come to this charming town.
They say that sopa da pedrawas invented by a cunning friar who told the locals he had a receipt for an excellent soup. He filled a borrowed pot with water in which he placed a stone. The friar would ask curious passers by for an ingredient to give it flavor (which might be salt, sausage, beans, potatoes...).
The owner of the house gave him salt, but he suggested that it was better if it were a bit of chouriço or ham.
Then the friar asked if they had anything to thicken the soup, like potatoes or beans that had been left over from the previous meal ... So the "stone" soup thickened. Carrots were added, plus the meat that was coupled with the beans and, of course, resulted in an excellent soup. They ate the soup together, and in the end the friar carefully removed the stone from the pot, washed it, and put it back in his box ... for the next soup.
So head to Almeirim - and try the sopa da pedra!