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From the Northarvest Kitchen
March 28, 2008

Portuguese Beans

Green Soup or Couvepronounced cooweavesSoup

By Lynne Bigwood, Northarvest Home Economist

Diane Haan visited the Northarvest booth last year during the Legislative Ag Day and offered me her familys Portuguese bean recipe.  As usual our dinner guests were served another bean dish, Portuguese Beans.

The Portuguese Beans recipe is an interesting combination of what I consider sweet spicescinnamon, allspice and clovesthat I use in sweet baked goods but not soup.  Our guests thought that the addition of cumin changed the flavor of the sweet spices.  Everyone thought it was quite good and willingly took a container home to eat later.

Kale or Green Soup is a second step using the leftover Portuguese Beans.   

The internet says that practically every Portuguese meal is accompanied by soup. The most popular is caldo verde (green soup), made with couve galega (Galician cabbage or Kale), sausage, potatoes, and olive oil.  It is found in every corner of the country, every season and climate.

Although the internet references say that Kale has a rich cabbage/broccoli flavor; some (most?) Americans think it is bitter and inedible. Most would not serve it as a vegetable side dish.  But used in this recipe it combines naturally with beans, tomatoes, spices and onion and makes a wonderful bean soup.

Kale requires longer cooking than most greens.  Because it has much natural body it is hard to overcook holding up well in soups and stews.  It gives a rich flavor to the cooking liquid.  For a vegetarian soup, that full flavor can enhance a broth base.

When we ate the Portuguese Green Soup my husband kept saying, This is really good!  He would eat a little more; and say This is really good!  I agree!  We really like the Portuguese beans; their flavor and spicing comes through in this soup.

Green soup is also popular in
Brazil which the Portuguese colonized.  Try both recipes and you will get a bonus from two of the most powerful natural vegetable vitamin pills kale and beans.  And while you are at it, go ahead, be adventuresome:  freeze cups of chopped kale, add it and cooked beans to your other soups as well.

Portuguese Beans

Original Recipe from Vange Correia

Yield:  13 cups




"        2 pounds pinto beans or six 15.5 ounce cans pinto beans

"        1 tablespoon salt

"        1 tablespoon salt

"        1 large bay leaf

"        1 stick cinnamon

"        12 whole allspice

"        8 whole cloves (or 1 t. ground cloves added to sauce)



"        ½ pound bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

"        2 medium onions, chopped

"        4 cloves garlic, diced

"        4 8-ounce cans tomato sauce (or 2 15-ounce cans)

"        2 ½ teaspoons cumin

"        ½ teaspoon chili powder

"        ¾ teaspoon black pepper

"        2 tablespoons parsley flakes or ½ cup fresh chopped parsley



1.       Hot Soak pinto beans. 

2.       Bring 20 cups cold water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in an 8 quart or larger pot.  Add 2 pounds (4 cups) sorted, rinsed pinto beans and simmer 2  3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand 1  16 hours. 

3.       Drain and rinse beans, rinse out the pan.  Pour beans back into pot, cover completely with cold water.  Add 1 tablespoon salt and first spice list.  Simmer until beans are tender, 30 to 90 minutes (½ to 1½ hours.)  Check and stir every 30 minutes. 
(Substitute canned beans:  skip bean cooking steps 1-4.  Pour canned beans and liquid into large pot and heat as you follow steps 5-7 to prepare sauce and cook the recipe.)     

4.       When the beans are cooked to tender, prepare and add the sauce ingredients. 

5.       Brown the bacon in a frying pan.  Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3  5 minutes.  Turn heat off, use a ladle to pour some bean liquid into the pan to deglaze it.  Pour the bacon-onion mixture into the beans, scraping out any remaining bits.  Add the tomato sauce and sauce spices (second list) to the beans.

6.       Mix and simmer on top of the stove for an hour or several hours. 

7.       Simmer the bean mixture uncovered to reduce the liquid and thicken for a vegetable side dish.  Cover pot to make thinner, soupier beans to serve in a bowl.


Crock pot method: 

Begin by adding dry beans to 12 cups of boiling water with 1½ tablespoons salt.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Pour in a large crock pot and cook all day or overnight.  An hour or more before the meal, prepare the sauce.  Pour the simmering sauce into to the crock pot; cook on High a minimum of 30 minutes, or on Low all day.  Canned beans may be substituted. Refrigerate and/or freeze leftovers in quart containers. 

Portuguese Kale Soup

Couve Soup  pronounced cooweaves

Green Broth or Green Soup

Yield:  16 cups


"        1 quart Portuguese beansalready prepared (OR 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed and ½ t. allspice, ½ t. cinnamon, ¼ t. cloves, ½ t. ground bay leaf, 1 or 2 teaspoons garlic, ¼ t. chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce and 3 or 4 pieces diced, cooked bacon.)

"        2 tablespoons olive oil

"        1 medium onion

"        2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon dry garlic

"        4 celery stalks

"        3 large carrots or 12  16 baby carrots

"        3 medium potatoes

"        4 1416-ounce cans chicken broth

"        1 pound cooked ham or spicy garlic sausage, cubed (OR 1 ham bone with meat)

"        1 teaspoon cumin

"        1/3 teaspoon black pepper

"        1 bunch of Kale (7-8 stems8 ounces)

"        ½ cup macaroni



1.       Heat a 6 or 8 quart pot on the stovetop.  Pour the olive oil in the pan and add each vegetable as you prepare them, stirring each addition.  Clean, peel and chop the vegetables, in the order givenonion and garlic, celery, carrots and potatoes.      

2.       Add broth and stir in the Portuguese beans, ham, cumin and black pepper. 

3.       Simmer minimum of 30 minutes.  If you cook the soup for more than an hour; check, stir and add more water if its too thick.     

4.       Cut the back rib and any dry or brown spots out of the kale leaves.  Chop or shred the kale into small pieces using a sharp knife or processor.  Fifteen minutes before serving, add the kale and macaroni.  Stir and simmer 15 minutes.  Serve hot with crusty bread and crackers.  Refrigerate and/or freeze leftovers. 



A ham bone with meat can be substituted for the pound of ham.  Put it in a 6  8 quart pot with the chicken broth and simmer for an hour or more to develop the broth flavor and tenderize the meat so it is easily cut off when you serve the soup. 


Crock pot method:       

Sauté the vegetables in a large frying pan.  Pour one can of broth into the pan to deglaze the pan.  Pour that mixture into a crock pot and add the remaining ingredients.  Cook on Low for 4 to 12 hours.  Add the kale and macaroni 15  30 minutes before serving.  Stir and simmer.   


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