Portuguese Bean Soup


Brrr…it’s c-c-c-cold! And rainy. Give me portuguese bean soup. Easyjet flights from Milan to Portugal are as low as 125€ rt, but I’ll satisfy yet another nostalgic taste from Hawaii right here in Italy.

Contrary to the previously posted recipe on patele stew, variations on this soup are profusely abundant online so what would it hurt to add one more? The only distinction that sets mine apart from Hawaii is that I was able to use the “real thing” in regards to portuguese sausage – chouriço picante that was purchased awhile back when I was eating my way around Lisbon and Porto. Also, the addition of cavolo nero or black cabbage (tuscan kale), gives this soup a bit of an italian touch.


1½ pounds smoked ham shanks, or ham hocks
10 cups water (2.4 liters)
1 tablespoon salt
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup tomato sauce
½ pound head cabbage, roughly chopped
2-3 large handfuls of roughly chopped tuscan kale tops
½ pound portuguese sausage, sliced into rounds and fried separately in a skillet
1 cup macaroni pasta, uncooked
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, save liquid
a generous pinch of clove spice
salt and pepper

Place the ham shanks, water and salt in a large kettle. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the meat falls off the bone; about 2 hours. Remove and shred meat off the bone and chop the skin into pieces. Discard bone and return meat/skin to the kettle. Return to a simmer.

Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, carrots and potatoes. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

Next add tomato sauce, both cabbages, fried portuguese sausage and macaroni. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, then add the kidney beans and all of their liquid. Add a generous pinch of ground cloves and adjust salt and add pepper to taste. Simmer for a final 5 minutes and serve. Goes great with portuguese sweet rolls. Serves 8-10.


Smoked ham shanks in Italy run big, and this stinco affumicato is proof in the pork.


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