Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe and Other Good Things! (2024)

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe and Other Good Things! (1)
It is all about my Portuguese Bean Soup recipe, but before you start reading, I must tell you while that this post is about Portuguese bean soup, there are some other interesting things you have to read first, before you get to my recipe! Read on….


has many ethnic influences from it's sugar plantation history. Immigrant workers arrived on Hawaiian shores from all around the world; Chinese, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Japanese, Koreans, British (especially the Scots), Spanish and of course… the Portuguese. This post is about the Portuguese and one food that you see every where on the islands that they created here.

The Portuguese came with a love of music and the ukulele, which has become an icon of Hawaiian Music and culture was a result There are many stories about how the Uke came to be. One is that a ship named the Ravenscrag arrived in


on the afternoon of August 23, 1879, it was carrying 419 Portuguese immigrants from the

island of Madeira

to work in the sugar cane fields. It had been a long and hard journey of over 4 months and some 15,000 miles. In celebration of their arrival, Joao Fernandes borrowed his friend's braguinha ( a small instrument shaped like a guitar) , jumped off the ship, and started playing folks songs from his native land on the wharf. The Hawaiians who came down to the dock were very impressed at the speed of this musicians' fingers as they danced across the fingerboard and they called the instrument "ukulele", which translates into English as "jumping flea". You see, that was the image conjured up by those flying fingers.Another story says that Queen Lili'uokalani thought it came from the Hawaiian words for "the gift that came here", or "uku" (gift or reward) and "lele" (to come).

Another legend says the instrument was originally called "ukeke lele" or "dancing ukeke" (ukeke being the Hawaiian's three stringed musical bow). The name, being mispronounced over the years, became "ukulele".

Still another theory comes from a story about Edward Purvis, an English army officer and the Assistant Chamberlain to the court of King David
alakaua, who was very adept at playing the braguinha. Since he was small and sprightly, the rather large Hawaiians nicknamed him "ukulele", the whole "jumping flea" thing all over again.

And yet another version of the origin of the world "ukulele" is attributed to Gabriel Davian and Judge W. L. Wilcox, who was a member of a well-known island family. According to the story, the two men were in attendance at a housewarming party at the Wilcox home in Kahili, where Davian was playing an 'ukulele he had made himself. When one of the guests asked what it was called, Davion jokingly replied that, judging from the way one "scratched at it," it was a "jumping flea". Wilcox, who was fluent in Hawaiian, was asked for the Hawaiian translation and is supposed to have answered, "'Ukulele!".

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe and Other Good Things! (2)

Because of colonization, a long history of shipping, the Portuguese had many influences on food and cultures around the world.


formerly had a large empire, and the cuisine has been influenced in both directions. The Portuguese influence is strongly evident in Brazilian cuisine, which features its own versions of Portuguese dishes such as feijoada and caldeirada (fish stew). Other former colonies include the Indian province of Goa, where dishes such as vindaloo show the Portuguese influence in its pairing of vinegar and garlic.

Portuguese trade ships reached Japan in around 1550. Japanese lords enjoyed Portuguese confectionery. It was remodeled as Kompeito and Kasutera, and influenced Wagashi. Tempura was introduced to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century by early Portuguese missionaries.
I digress, the reason I am writing this post is that the Portuguese also brought food. Along with Portuguese sweet breads in a variety of forms (Pao Doce), malasadas (like giant jelly doughnuts) Portuguese sausages have become an important part of the Hawaiian diet. It is not uncommon to see people sitting on the side of the road selling Portuguese pickled onions from the trunks of their cars.

The Portuguese sausages (linguiça, chouriço), sometimes quite spicy, are served for breakfast and are even available in Hawaiian McDonalds at breakfast, along with SPAM. I will be making posts about some of the above foods in future posts, but the Portuguese Sausage plays a role in this post.

And then there is the bean soup (sopa de feijão) which is eaten regularly in the Hawaiian Islands by families of all ethnicities. It is at almost every festival and many restaurants as well as being a comfort food for all Hawaiians. Find any community or church cookbook and you will find many recipes for Portuguese Bean Soup. While all have kidney beans and Portuguese Sausage in a tomato base, the other ingredients vary. I used cabbage, onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, chick peas & macaroni in mine. It made a huge pot and I froze a couple of containers of it for later. We have already had it for two meals and have enough for 3-4 more.

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe and Other Good Things! (3)

Ham Hocks are essential to the complex and rich flavor to this soup. If you adverse to using them, then you can use chopped ham, or eliminate the ham flavoring all together, but if you want the real thing, you need them. Some people also add bacon, I do not.

2-3 medium sized smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound Portuguese sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced (I used “hot” sausages, but they make them mild)
1 large or two small Maui onions, coarsely chopped
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 cup chunky diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
3 15-ounce cans kidney beans with liquid or a 1# bag of kidney beans soaked over night
2 cups of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) soaked over night.
2 14.5-ounce cans diced organic tomatoes (or one large can)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
½ pound of elbow macaroni
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro (Chinese parsley), coarsely chopped
1 bunch flat leaf (Italian) parsley
2 Tablespoons of black peppercorns
5 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried bay leaves

All amounts are approximate. You may want to add more or less of any ingredient depending on your own personal taste. Feel free to play with this recipe. I did by combining several I found. I am even thinking that fresh corn off the cob would be good with this when in season, which is almost all year in


In large stock pot, combine ham hocks, onion, garlic, black peppercorns and bay leaves. Add chicken broth and just enough water to cover the ham hocks completely. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. Simmer covered for about 2 hours. This slow cooking will give the soup it's rich flavor.

Remove the ham hocks and de-bone, dice any meat and set aside.

Put the pot in a large bowl of ice and after about 30 minutes skim any fat off. Return pot to the stove.
To the pot, add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, potatoes, ½ of the parsley and ½ of the cilantro and all of the cabbage. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Add in diced ham hocks and Portuguese sausage. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Add macaroni and cook until cooked through (about 10 minutes more).

Serve topped with fresh chopped parsley & cilantro and cracked black pepper.

This recipe also freezes quite well.

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe and Other Good Things! (2024)
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