Portuguese Kale Soup…

My grandmother makes a mean Portuguese bean soup, handed down by the generations almost by whisper. It was featured on Hawaii’s cooking show, The Electric Kitchen, many times in the past.  Recently, it was put in a local cookbook of family favorites.  This soup…is not it.  While I have been wanting to make her soup for a while, I did not have everything in place.  Instead, I got a 13 bean mix from the produce stand and decided to throw in a sausage and some kale. Turned out to be pretty darned good, but not as good as grandma’s.

Portuguese sausage, or as it’s called here on the mainland, Linguica, is a unique sausage.  Just like how chorizo and andouille all taste slightly different, despite having virtually the same ingredients, this one is special. It has a coarser texture for one. In Hawaii, you can go anywhere for breakfast and get Portuguese sausage and eggs.  Come to think of it, you can also get Spam and eggs, but we won’t go down that nasty road.

When you walk through the aisles of the grocery store and get excited when you see canned beans “10 for $10” and you think “whoa! what a deal!”, tone it down and take a breath.  Canned beans are a distant cousin to what beans can be. Dried beans are incredibly cheaper and easy to make if you prepare ahead.  The only difference is you have to soak them for at least 8 hours in water.  You can do this when you’re leaving the house in the morning and when you’re home after work, it’s ready for soup.

This 13 bean mix had yellow lentils, green lentils, split peas, kidney beans, black eye beans, pinto beans, red beans, white beans, heck even a blue bean (check it out on the bottom of the photo).  These pre-mixed varieties are fun and you get to try different varieties without buying  bunch and mixing it yourself.

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, which I was first exposed to it only a year or two ago.  What a shame.  It’s a hearty cabbage variety that is good raw, braised, stewed, or fried. And from a gardening perspective, is tough through to the winter.

Portuguese Kale Soup

1 lb dried beans (mix or all one variety)
1 bunch kale, chopped into strips
1 Linguica, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4″ thin
3 stalks celery
1 t red chili pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, diced fine
2 T olive oil
8 cups liquid (stock or water)

Soak beans in cold water for at least 8 hours.  I chose to do it overnight.

In a dutch oven or other large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned well and slightly crispy on edges. Remove from pot and add onions and celery, reduce heat to medium. Cook until onions sweat (meaning they looks translucent), about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Add kale and cook 3 minutes. Add beans and liquid (I used half chicken stock, half water). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 60 minutes, partially covered (or time indicated on bag of beans).

Taste for flavoring and add salt/pepper as needed. As always in Portuguese cuisine, serve with bread!

*next up…Pork Carnitas and Easy Tortillas…*

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