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portuguese bean soup

Portuguese Bean Soup: Exploring the Irresistible Flavors

Savor the rich flavors of Portuguese bean soup, a culinary delight blending tradition and taste. Find it at local markets and festivals near you. The essence of Portuguese comfort food is the famous Portuguese bean soup.

People in Portugal have been eating this traditional soup for many generations. Its roots can be found in the Azores islands. With its delicious blend of beans, vegetables, and flavorful meats, this soup is a true crowd-pleaser.

History and Cultural Significance of Portuguese Bean Soup

The history of Portuguese bean soup is deeply intertwined with the cultural heritage of Portugal. This hearty soup originated in the Azores Islands, a group of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores islands were a key stop for ships traveling between Europe and the Americas, and the cuisine of the islands reflects this rich history of exploration and trade.

The Portuguese Bean Soup was born out of necessity, as the Azorean people had to make the most of the ingredients available to them. Beans, being a staple in their diet, became the base of this soup. Over time, the soup evolved to incorporate other ingredients, such as vegetables and meats, making it a wholesome and satisfying meal.

Ingredients for Portuguese Bean Soup

To make the best Portuguese bean soup, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini beans)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 chorizo sausage, sliced
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

These ingredients can be easily found in most grocery stores, and they are the key to creating a flavorful and authentic Portuguese bean soup.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cooking Portuguese Bean Soup

  1. Start by soaking the beans overnight in water. This will help to soften them and reduce the cooking time.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, then transfer them to a large pot.
  3. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced carrots, cubed potatoes, sliced chorizo sausage, smoked ham hock, bay leaf, and enough water to cover all the ingredients.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
  5. Remove the ham hock from the pot and shred the meat, discarding the bone and any excess fat.
  6. Return the shredded meat to the pot, and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Let the soup simmer for an additional 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  8. Serve the Portuguese Bean Soup hot, garnished with fresh parsley if desired.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Portuguese Bean Soup

  • Soaking the beans overnight is crucial for reducing the cooking time and ensuring that they are tender.
  • Adding a smoked ham hock to the soup adds a depth of flavor and richness.
  • For a spicier version of the soup, you can use spicy chorizo sausage instead of the regular variety.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the seasonings to suit your taste preferences. Portuguese bean soup is a forgiving recipe that can be customized to your liking.

Variations and Additions to the Soup

While the traditional Portuguese bean soup recipe is delicious on its own, there are several variations and additions that you can try to add your own twist to this classic dish. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add kale or cabbage to the soup for added texture and nutrients.
  • Substitute the smoked ham hock with Portuguese linguica sausage for a different flavor profile.
  • Experiment with different types of beans, such as kidney beans or black beans, to create a unique variation of Portuguese bean soup.
  • For a vegetarian version, omit the meat and add extra vegetables or vegetable broth for flavor.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions 

Portuguese bean soup is a complete meal on its own, but it can also be served as a starter or main course. Here are some serving and pairing suggestions:

  • Serve the soup with a side of crusty bread for dipping.
  • Pair the soup with a glass of Portuguese red wine, such as Douro or Alentejo.
  • Enjoy the soup with a fresh green salad for a well-rounded meal.
  • For a traditional Portuguese experience, serve the soup with a side of Portuguese cornbread, known as broa.

Health Benefits of Portuguese Bean Soup

Portuguese bean soup is not only delicious, but it also offers several health benefits. Here are some of the benefits of this hearty soup:

  • Beans are a great source of plant-based protein, making this soup a nutritious option for vegetarians and vegans.
  • The vegetables in the soup provide essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.
  • The soup is low in fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy choice.
  • The fiber content in the beans helps promote healthy digestion and can aid in weight management.

Where to Find Portuguese Bean Soup in Portugal

If you find yourself in Portugal and want to try authentic Portuguese bean soup, there are several places where you can find this delicious dish. Many traditional Portuguese restaurants and taverns serve the soup as part of their menu, especially in the Azores Islands, where it originated. 

Talented home cooks who have perfected their own family recipes often prepare Portuguese bean soup in local markets and food festivals, where you can also find it.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts on the Best Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe

Portuguese bean soup is a true culinary gem that showcases the rich flavors and cultural heritage of Portugal. Whether you are preparing it in your own kitchen or enjoying it in a traditional Portuguese eatery, this soup is sure to satisfy your taste buds and warm your soul. 

With its simple yet delicious combination of beans, vegetables, and meats, Portuguese bean soup is a dish that will transport you to the vibrant streets of Portugal with every spoonful. So gather your ingredients, follow the step-by-step instructions, and get ready to indulge in the best Portuguese bean boup you’ve ever tasted.


How healthy is bean soup?

Bean soup is a healthy and nutritious option, as it is packed with fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Beans are a great source of plant-based protein, making bean soup an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans. 

Additionally, the high fiber content in beans promotes healthy digestion and can help with weight management. However, it’s important to note that the overall nutritional content of bean soup can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

How many calories are in Portuguese bean soup?

The number of calories in Portuguese bean soup can vary depending on the specific recipe and serving size. On average, a serving of Portuguese bean soup contains approximately 300–400 calories. 

It is important to remember, though, that the number of calories can change depending on things like the type and amount of meat used, as well as any extras or garnishes.

What are the healthiest beans for soup?

When it comes to choosing beans for soup, there are several healthy options to consider. Some of the healthiest beans for soup include kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, and lentils. These beans are high in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients, making them a nutritious addition to any soup recipe. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different types of beans to find the flavors and textures that you enjoy the most.