Monchique, Mimosa and Antonia´s Soup

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Spring has arrived 

Spring has definitely arrived. The fields and roadsides are covered in the brightest yellow. It almost looks like someone has decorated the landscape with yellow paint and a sponge. It is Mimosa time again!

I do like all the seasons in the Algarve but spring is probably my favourite. The climate is fantastic and after the winter rains the landscape is covered in a fresh, light green. An abundance of flowers come alive with the first warm rays of spring sunshine resulting in a vibrant and eclectic scenery. This is the perfect time for me to take you on a trip to Monchique to enjoy its beautiful nature, excellent food and find authentic handicrafts. And when we return home after a long and joyful day, it is time to enjoy the delicious soup that Antónia (from restaurante “A Vela”) has shared with us.

Lane with mimosa trees

Serra de Monchique

Monchique is a range of rolling mountains located between the Algarve and the Alentejo. This region is called “Serra de Monchique” and at this time of the year (March) you can here thousands of beautiful, blooming Mimosa trees.

Caldas de Monchique

We start our Monchique tour in Portimão at the exit from the A22, from where we follow the winding road in the direction of Monchique and Fóia (the highest point in the Algarve)
About 6 km before you reach the town Monchique you will find a little mountain village called “Caldas de Monchique”. A visit to this small, mystical village is a must!
Caldas de Monchique is a “spa-town”. As early as Roman times the sacred waters of this place were believed to have curative and magical powers.

A legend ( I do love legends ) tells us that if you drink from the “fountain of love”, an ancient font in the forest, you will fall in love with life. I tried this many years ago and it worked!😉 Nowadays you can still enjoy a relaxing range of therapies at the Caldas de Monchique. The 32ºC spring waters are known for their healing properties and are recommended for their healing effect on respiratory, muscular, and rheumatic ailments.


We continue our way up to Monchique, a charming hillside town with cobbled streets (Calçada- click for more info) and mostly white-washed houses. The town of Monchique is located between the peaks of Fóia and Picota. Here you can appreciate the fantastic local gastronomy, buy local products like honey, smoked ham, special sausages and medronho ( I will get back to this 😊) Monchique also has authentic handicraft to offer. I do love these little workshops where they still make fantastic products like the “Roman chairs”, baskets, pottery, and knitwear.

On the side of the road between Monchique and Fóia you can find several wells with spring water. Here you can fill your own bottles with the famous and healthy Monchique water, which is known for its high PH value of 9.7. Make sure you are not in a hurry because there is a big chance that there is someone in front of you with at least 20 – 5 litre bottles.

Fóia and Picota

At 902 mt Fóia is the highest point in the Algarve and it has the most amazing views. On a clear day you can see most of the Algarvian coastline.  The mountain Picota is also worth a visit with its beautiful mountain roads leading you through the woods, its spectacular views and reservoirs.

view from Picota


The other interesting thing you can find on the side of the roads and in the fields are the “Medronho” trees , also known as the Strawberry tree or Arbutus. The red and yellow fruits from these trees look a bit like strawberries and are used to make the famous and strong spirit called “Aguardente de Medronhos” or simply “Medronho”. It takes between 7 and 10 kg of fruit to make 1 litre of Medronho. It is fermented for approximately 3 months and after this, distilled in a copper alembic (still). Now you will understand why this spirit is a little more expensive but the quality is fantastic.
To recognize a good quality medronho you put a little amount of it on your hands, rub them together and smell………If you can smell the fruit after the alcohol has evaporated you can be sure it is a good one! A perfect digestive after dinner.
A Nossa Saude! (cheers !)


Alfarrobeira – this tree can live up to 200 years

Another well-known product from the Monchique and the Algarve is the Alfarroba (Carob). The carob is a dark, pea-shaped pod that comes from the “Alfarrobeira”.

In the past it had very little value and was mainly used to feed animals, but nowadays it is a valuable product due to its natural sweetness and healthy properties. It is an ingredient for diabetic chocolate bars, a wide range of cakes, bread to mention a few uses and it is also used in the pharmaceutics and cosmetic industry. In one of my next posts I will share a recipe for a carob, figs and almond tart. All healthy stuff and so delicious 😉.

Antonia´s soup

And what better way to end the day than with the delicious soup from Antonia !

Portugal is a country with a very rich soup culture. In a Portuguese home, a meal is rarely served without first serving a good soup. In the north of Portugal, the soups are sometimes so richly filled that they are often eaten as a main course.

Recipe for White Bean Soup with Cabbage (serves 4)

Ingredients :

  1. 250 gr dried white beans
    2 tomatoes
    1 onion chopped
    1 large garlic clove chopped
    3 carrots peeled and sliced
    4 potatoes peeled and diced
  2. 1 savoy cabbage or white cabbage finely sliced
    1 sprig parsley chopped finely
    1 bay leaf
    50 ml virgin olive oil
    salt and black pepper to taste


Soak the dried beans in water overnight in a large bowl. Rinse the following day and cook them with plenty of water for 1,5 hours. If you don’t have time to soak the beans, you can cook them for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker with plenty of water.

Once the beans are cooked put all the ingredients into the pot adding salt and black pepper to taste.

Let this simmer for about 30 minutes or until everything is cooked…. and then enjoy this delicious and healthy soup.


 And again a big thank you for Alyson Jones (English correction) and Antónia (recipe) !!


This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)



  • toni ardinast 05/03/2021 at 11:41 am Reply

    Wonderful Artikel

    • johanna 06/03/2021 at 12:08 pm Reply

      Muito obrigada Toni ❣❣

  • Nicki Makris 06/03/2021 at 12:49 pm Reply

    I love Monchique and your photos have certainly captured it really well making me wish I was there. I never knew that Mehronho came from the strawberry tree – it will have added interest! The next time I’m in Portugal I must try some, but will be sure to put some on my hands (and rub and smell) before drinking!! Antonia’s recipe is very similar to one I have from Greece, I will try hers. As always stay safe Joke.

    • johanna 07/03/2021 at 10:53 am Reply

      Hi Nick, good to hear from you !

      • johanna 07/03/2021 at 10:56 am Reply

        The next time you are here we will drink a Medronho together . Hope you are keeping well!
        Can´t wait for the the next “girls night” . Lots of love Joke.

    • johanna 07/03/2021 at 10:58 am Reply

      Hi Nicki, good to hear from you !
      The next time you are here we will drink a Medronho together . Hope you are keeping well!
      Can´t wait for the the next “girls night” . Lots of love Joke.

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