Wednesday, April 21, 2010

UnRecipe: Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit

Oh, come on, like you've never heard that song before -- just like no one's ever pressured you to pull their finger. Admit it, you laugh every time because at heart, all our senses of humor are still languishing in grade school and most likely throwing spitballs at one another. Beans truly are the musical fruit and you will toot-toot-toot aplenty after you've had a bowl or three of tasty Portuguese Bean Soup.

Portuguese Bean Soup for the Soul - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Portuguese bean soup is like chicken soup for Hawaii -- every recipe is different, but it's one of those dishes that everyone knows how to make. Hawaii was like the Ellis Island for the West Coast back in the day, so there's a variety of different food cultures that were assimilated into island cuisine. The Portuguese played a big part in a lot of the common foods, in both sweet and savory offerings. This soup is basically a tomato-based broth that slowly cooks down root vegetables, linguica sausage, a ham bone or hock of some sort, and yes of course, beans. Chunks of cabbage are also added towards the end to wilt in the thickened soup, as if the lentils weren't enough to get the body singing a little tune.

Inexpensive cuts of meat and common root vegetables -- this soup is a poor man's meal, but rich with flavor and familiarity. My mother cooked up a big pot of it during my visit, but weeks before I saw them, I cooked up a batch on my own. I used a ham bone I had been saving in the freezer from the holidays, threw in all the leftover root vegetables that were sitting in the crisper, and substituted Swiss chard for cabbage. Granted, it never tastes the same or as good as what Mom makes, but the slow cooker made quick work of it and like all soups and stews, the flavors continued to develop in the leftovers.

On cold, blustery Northwest days, this is the best thing to tuck into to shake off the chill. My parents love to have this soup on one of their brisk sixty-degree days of island living. Which to that, I throw on another pair of wool socks, wrap a blanket around my shoulders already covered in three layers of clothing, and wonder how the heck sixty degrees could be considered "cold."

The Prime's Version of Portuguese Bean Soup - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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  1. Oh yum, gorgeous soup. I've made a similar bean soup before with leftover beans and ham. This is purely delicious but not appropriate for our weather right now. :)

  2. Denise, I love this post! Educational, informative, and appealing. I think we'll try this here at Chez Lloyd, and relish the thought of this nurturing and comforting dish.

  3. mmmm. I havent had Portuguese bean soup in a LONG time... now I want it... NOW. mmm. Time to google a recipe

  4. Awesome home-made soup! My mouth is watery to imagine the broth coming from the veg and meat. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Delicious! It is rainy and cold today in Tokyo and a steaming hot bowl of this soup would be the perfect thing to knock off the chill. Come over and make some for me? :)

  6. Haha that must be a funny song. I love this nice hearty soup. Cheap to make and rich in flavor:) My ideal kind of food. I'm going to have a slow cooker soon, so I'll be making some of this. :)

  7. Great soup, I think every European country has its own version, I love this one!

  8. My grandma used to make something very similar to this!! I completely loved it!!! Very rich in flavor for sure!! Sometimes I think the best foods are the ones that don't cost a lot to make but have amazing flavor ....there is just something so memorable about it....makes you think of family and good times. and thats what food is about, getting together and sharing memories!!

    I hope you had a lovely Earth Day #40 yesterday! Happy Friday and have a great weekend!


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