Sit down to a richly flavored and comforting fall dish of Portuguese Bean Stew that includes chunks of Linguica sausage, potato and kale. This stew is typical of what might be served, not only in Portugal, but in the Azores, Brazil, and Portuguese-American kitchens and restaurants.
Stews and soups don’t have to be boring and if you want a cool weather dish that is a little different, serve a rustic Portuguese bean stew. Portuguese soups and stews, in many variations, are found not only in Portugal but also in the former Portuguese colonies of Macau, Angola, Mozambique, Goa, Brazil, in the North Atlantic Azores and any country where Portuguese immigrants have settled.
There is an enormous variety of soups and hearty stews in Portugal…there are even Festa das Sopas Tradicionais, soup festivals held throughout the country. Caldo Verde, a sausage, kale and potato soup is likely the most famous. Sopa de Feijao is another traditional soup of red beans with pork and sausage. There are many versions of bean soups that are made with a variety of pork parts as well as different kinds of beans.
My Portuguese bean stew is one that you might find being served in a Portuguese-American kitchen. For this recipe, I used small dried pink beans that I had soaked over night. I used smoky Linguica sausage which adds a rich flavor to the homemade chicken stock in the recipe. I also used tender baby kale and Yukon Gold potatoes but you can use other types of greens and potatoes. You can also make this stew using canned beans and chicken broth as well as other flavorful sausages such as Portuguese Chourico, Spanish Chorizo or Andouille, of course the flavor will be a little different but still delicious.
Portuguese Bean Stew
- 3 slices smoked bacon, chopped (optional but adds flavor)
- 1/2 lb. Portuguese sausage such as Linguica, a smoke cured sausage with garlic and paprika or Chourico
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper or to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- a pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- 2 c. water
- 12 oz. bag dried pink (rosado), red or pinto beans, soaked overnight, then drained
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 5 oz. baby kale, collard greens or Swiss chard
- salt to taste
Add the bacon to a large pot over medium heat and cook until brown, remove and set aside. Slice the sausage in half lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch half moons. Add the sausage to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and water, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pot and cook about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, the reserved bacon and seasonings except the salt, stir well then add the soaked and drained beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 2 – 3 hours, depending on the type of beans you are using. Add water as needed to keep beans submerged. When the beans are tender, add the potatoes, season with salt to taste and cook until tender. Remove the bay leaf and add the kale and cook until the greens are just tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if nesecary, then divide among bowls and serve.
- If using large, mature greens, strip the leaves off the stems and ribs. Stack a few leaves at a time and roll them into a cylinder then cut them crosswise into thin strips. Cut those strips into 1 inch lengths.
- If you can’t find Linguica, you can use Andouille sausage or Chorizo.
- If you have plenty of time to make and serve this bean stew, I would suggest using dried beans that have been soaked overnight but canned beans are great when you want a quick and easy meal.
- If possible, I would suggest using homemade chicken stock as it imparts a rich flavor to the stew.
- Do not add salt to the beans until they are cooked as salt can sometimes interfere with the bean skins getting soft.
Although Portuguese stews are enjoyed anytime of the year, this richly flavored and a little spicy, comforting meal is especially nice for the cold months that lie ahead. Pour yourself a glass of red wine from the Douro Valley of Portugal to accompany a steaming bowl of this flavorful and hearty stew of smoky sausage, beans, potatoes and kale. Add some crusty bread and you will have the perfect fall meal. Enjoy!