Portuguese bean soup has an incredibly rich flavor profile thanks to its many different spices and flavors.
This makes it one of the best recipes that we have tried so far!
What Is The Origin Of Portuguese Bean Soup?
The origins of this dish come from Portugal, where it was first created.
It is believed that the Portuguese developed their version of this classic stew during the Middle Ages when they were under Muslim rule.
The Muslims had introduced them to a variety of beans which are now commonly used in this dish such as chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), white kidney beans, and black-eyed peas.
These three varieties of dried legumes are common throughout Europe and are also eaten today.
In addition, the Portuguese often use green lentils in their soups instead of red lentils because they are more flavorful.
In fact, the name “soup” comes from the French word “potage” meaning broth or stock, since all these soups are served with stock to add depth of flavor.
Many people believe that the Portuguese adapted this recipe by adding meat into the mix.
However, this isn’t true at all.
They simply added meat to other stews like caldo verde and alcatra, which originated from Spain.
Bean soup is usually served with bread, but you could always make your own version if you want to get creative.
What Are The Traditional Ingredients In A Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe?
While this classic dish may not be as popular today as some other dishes, there’s no doubt about what makes up this delicious soup.
- Beans – these provide the bulk of your protein, with around 25% coming from proteins like legumes and nuts
- Onions – onions add great depth to the flavor of the soup, plus they help keep your body warm during cold weather
- Chicken stock – chicken broth adds even more flavor than just beans alone, and provides the necessary nutrients for good health
- Sour cream – sour cream gives the soup a creamy texture without adding extra calories
- Potatoes – potatoes give the soup a starchy taste, which helps balance out the richness of the meaty vegetables used
- Mushrooms – mushrooms add additional vitamins and minerals, plus a nice amount of fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer
- Bread – bread brings another layer of flavor, providing a crunchy element while also giving you something to chew on
The star ingredient in a Portuguese bean soup recipe is…
This Portuguese bean soup uses black eyed peas (or “feijoada”), which comes from the legume family, and includes all the above-mentioned ingredients.
How Do You Make Portuguese Bean Soup?
The first step to making this delicious dish is to soak your beans overnight.
Then, cook them with onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon sticks, saffron, and cloves.
Once cooked down, add tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsley, and salt before simmering for about 30 minutes.
Then, stir everything together until all the vegetables are softened and incorporated into the broth.
Add more water if necessary to thin out the mixture.
Be sure to check out these other fun recipes for beef stew and chicken rice soup for even more ways to enjoy this popular Portuguese soup.
If you’re looking for more information on Portuguese food, head over to our article detailing how to make a traditional Portuguese meatball sandwich.
We also recommend checking out our guide to Portugal’s national dishes.
What Are Some Variations Of Portuguese Bean Soup?
There are several types of Portuguese bean soup recipes out there, but the most common ones include black beans, white beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and fava beans.
Other varieties of this dish also exist — like French-style bean soup, which uses both white and green beans.
What Is Your Favorite Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe?
We’ve created this recipe with the goal of making it as flavorful and delicious as possible.
This recipe was inspired by our trip through Portugal last year.
We were there just before Christmas, when they celebrate the feast day of St.
Lucia (December 13th).
The food is amazing, especially their dishes filled with beans.
For example, we had a plate of rice topped with white beans and sauteed onions, and another dish where we got two plates of rice covered in black beans.
The next time we went back to Portugal, we asked a cook at our hotel what his family served during the holidays.
He said that he didn’t know how much of the traditional foods had been lost over the years because most people now prefer more “Westernized” versions of meals.
But he shared with us his mother’s famous bean soup, which she still prepares every year around Christmas.
He brought us into her kitchen and showed us the big pot full of black beans sitting on top of the stove.
Then he explained all the steps involved in preparing them.
First, he boiled the black beans for about 15 minutes until tender.
Next, he added some oil, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, paprika, ground pepper, salt, and sugar to the pot.
After that, he let everything simmer together for about 30 minutes while stirring occasionally.
When the beans started getting soft, he took out half of them to make sure that both sides of the beans absorbed the seasoning well.
They then returned to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients.
Once everything blended together nicely, he turned off the heat and placed the whole mixture inside a large bowl.
After letting it cool down, he poured the thickened broth into individual bowls and garnished each serving with slices of lemon and parsley.
Our mouths watered immediately from the smell coming from the oven, but we decided not to risk burning ourselves eating hot soup straight from the pot.
Instead, we enjoyed it cold right away.
It tasted like a cross between minestra de feijoada (black-bean stew) and refogado (refreshing), which is why we call this our “crossing of cultures” Portuguese bean soup recipe.
You can adjust the spice level depending on your preference.
For a vegetarian version of Portuguese bean soup, try substituting chicken stock for regular water.
Just be careful if using low sodium chicken stock since it might add too much salt.
How Do You Like To Eat Your Portuguese Bean Soup?
If you’re looking for something simple but delicious, this is definitely the right recipe for you.
This dish can be served with crusty bread as well as rice or potatoes.
If you prefer more carbs, you could also serve it over noodles instead of rice.
The main ingredients in this recipe are all easy to find at any supermarket around the world.
You will need:
What Are Some Interesting Facts About Portuguese Bean Soup?
You may not know this but Portugal was once a very wealthy country due to their vast trade with other countries.
This wealth allowed them to become influential throughout Europe.
The Portuguese were known as explorers and merchants, and they often traveled all over the world during this period.
They traded goods from around the globe, including tea, cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, coffee, rice, and even slaves.
This influence lasted until 1820 when the French invaded Portugal.
The invasion forced King Ferdinand VII to abdicate his throne.
He went into exile and eventually died in Brazil where he became Emperor Dom Pedro IV.
After the French occupation, Portugal lost most of its wealth and power.
Many people fled to Brazil and Argentina, and the rest of the population suffered greatly because of poverty and famine.
In spite of being poor, Portugal still maintained an impressive cultural heritage.
Many important figures came out of this time such as Maria II (Queen), who led Portugal back to greatness and even founded the first university in Brazil.
Today, the Portuguese language remains strong in Brazil, Argentina, and Africa, and there’s even a famous football team called FC Porto that plays in the premier league of European Football Leagues.
Bean Soup History
For centuries, bean soup was considered a staple food.
People used beans for everything at one point or another – from making bread, to fuel fires, to making fertilizer.
During times of war, people would use dried beans instead of money and coins.
In fact, during World War I, British soldiers paid each other using dried peas, which were also rationed during the Great Depression.
As you might expect, bean soup is great for healthy living today too.
It provides lots of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B1, B6, and folate, among others.
What Is The History Of Portuguese Bean Soup?
Bean soups were first introduced to Portugal by Arab merchants who brought them from North Africa.
These soups quickly became popular throughout Europe.
The word “soup” comes from French, which was derived from Middle English (meaning ‘to boil’).
The name given to this dish is actually a misnomer as it does not contain any meat or fish at all.
What it does contain is beans, vegetables, and herbs.
This type of soup is typically served with bread, but you can also serve it with crackers, fresh fruit like apples, pears, plums, and grapes, or even toast if you prefer.
Some people choose to add cheese, such as feta or cheddar, to their dishes.
If you want to make your own version of Portuguese bean soup, then follow along with our guide below.
- 1 pound dry navy beans
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5-6 cups vegetable stock
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Saffron threads
- Parsley leaves
- Basil leaves
- Lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Celery stalks, cut into pieces
- Feta cheese, crumbled
How Did Portuguese Bean Soup Become Popular?
This delicious dish originated from Portugal’s former colonies like Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé & Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, East Timor, etc.
It was brought over by people who settled there during colonial times as well as later migrants who came back after independence.
In fact, this recipe was passed down through generations because it tastes great no matter how old you get.
As time went on, Portuguese bean soup became more widely known across the globe due to its unique taste.
The following sections will explain why Portuguese bean soup is so good and what makes it special.
Why does Portuguese bean soup taste so good?
- The beans used in Portuguese bean soup are called “feijoada” (pronounced fay-ya-dah). These beans were originally grown in Brazil but are now also found all around the world.
- Feijoada contains various types of meat such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, turkey, sausage, and even ostrich. Each type of meat lends itself to a different flavor profile which makes feijoada very versatile.
- The vegetables used in Portuguese bean soup include potatoes, carrots, cabbage, black olives, turnips, squash, kale, spinach, and other root vegetables. They add color and texture to the soup while giving off a nice savory flavor.
- Finally, the seasoning in Portuguese bean soup includes saffron, cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, bay leaves, paprika, tomatoes, and olive oil.
Where did Portuguese bean soup come from?
In the early 1900’s, Portuguese immigrants started cooking their own versions of traditional dishes they grew up with.
Feijoada was probably among them since it had been passed down through generations before then.
After settling in Brazil, these Portuguese immigrants learned to cook Brazilian cuisine.
Then, when Brazil gained its independence in 1822, they began exporting food products throughout Europe and North America.
As a result, Portuguese bean soup spread all over the world.
What is the difference between Portuguese bean soup and Portuguese stewed bean soup?
There isn’t actually much of a difference between Portuguese bean soup and Portuguese stewed bean soup, aside from the broth being thickened differently.
However, most people prefer Portuguese bean soup over Portuguese stewed bean soup simply because it uses less water and takes longer to make.
What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Portuguese Bean Soup?
Many people think that this dish is very difficult to make because they don’t know how to cook beans properly.
If you don’t want your soup to taste bland, then you should definitely learn how to cook them correctly.
Additionally, if you add too much salt, you will end up with a salty soup instead of a flavorful one.
To avoid this problem, try adding less than 1/4 tsp of salt at most.
1. You need to soak the dried beans overnight before cooking them
In fact, soaking beans does not really help improve their texture.
However, as long as you do it right after buying them, there shouldn’t be any negative effects on your soup’s quality.
If you plan to use canned beans, simply rinse off the excess sodium from the cans and put them directly into the pot where you are going to boil them.
Otherwise, just skip this step altogether.
In either case, you still need to drain the soaked beans well before boiling them.
2. Don’t forget to simmer the beans gently
You must never allow the beans to come to a boil while cooking Portuguese bean soup.
They require gentle heat to preserve their nutrients and prevent them from becoming mushy.
The key here is to check the water level every few minutes until it reaches 2 inches above the top of the beans.
Once you see bubbles starting to form around the edge of the pan, remove it from the heat immediately.
Then let the beans cool down completely before moving forward with the rest of the steps.
3. The secret ingredient in Portuguese bean soup is cinnamon
Cinnamon adds another layer of flavor to this vegetable-based soup.
Soak it first by placing 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
Let it cool down before straining out the cinnamon bits.
Then, pour the strained liquid back into the same pot where you boiled the beans.
Add fresh parsley leaves, garlic cloves, bay leaves, tomato, onion, and olive oil.
Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Next, stir all ingredients together thoroughly, and bring the pot back to a low temperature (around 180 degrees F).
Cook the mixture for 45 more minutes before removing it from the heat.
Once the soup is ready, take out the contents of the pot, including the bay leaves, garlic cloves, and onions.
Allow the vegetables to cool down before transferring them to a blender, along with the whole tomatoes.
Puree the mixture until smooth.
Pour it back into the pot, stir in the cream, and reheat slowly over medium-low heat until it starts bubbling again.
- 1.5 pounds smoked ham hocks
- 1 onion diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 potatoes diced
- 2 ounce kidney beans
- 1 ounce tomato sauce
- 1 ounce Portuguese sausage stick
- 1 small head cabbage chopped
- 1 cup macaroni pasta uncooked
- To start, prepare the ham hock stock by combining the ham hocks with 2.5 quarts of water in a big pot. After bringing the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cook for 1.5 hours on low heat with a cover on top.
- Take the ham hocks out and place them on a chopping board to cool. Cut the meat and skin from the bone once it has cooled. Slice the meat and skin thinly, then place them aside.
- Remove the fat from the ham hock stock’s surface. The tomato sauce and diced tomato cans should be added after bringing the stock back to a boil.
- Add the diced ham hocks back in after bringing the soup back to a boil. Add the diced potatoes, carrots, and onions after that.
- Add the kidney beans, Portuguese sausage, cabbage, and macaroni noodles after bringing the soup back to a boil.
- Continue to simmer the soup on medium-low heat for a further 30 minutes. Add enough of pepper and salt to taste when seasoning. Enjoy!