portuguese bean soup

Craig DeSilva
January 25, 2024

Portuguese bean soup is always a popular favorite at the annual Punahou Carnival in February. People wait in long lines for this local dish that sells out quickly. But I’ve never had to wait for the Punahou Carnival or in a long line to enjoy this hearty soup. My family has been making this recipe for as long as I can remember, particularly around New Year’s. So start 2024 with this delicious soup. It’s so good that you'll want to enjoy it any time.



  • 2 smoked ham shanks
  • Water
  • 10 oz. Portuguese sausage, cubed
  • 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 lb. uncooked macaroni
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place ham shanks in a large pot with enough water to cover. Boil shanks about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the shanks and add water to cover again. Boil for 90 more minutes.

Stir in sausage, beans, tomato sauce, and carrots. Cook 10 minutes. Stir in onion, celery, and potatoes. Cook 20 minutes. Add cabbage, macaroni, and tomato paste and cook 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Celebrating Portuguese cuisine
Portuguese immigrants introduced their cuisine to Hawaii during the sugar plantation era starting in the late 1800s. Over the years, Portuguese food has been integrated into Hawaii’s culture. Here are some local favorites.  

Caldo verde (Portuguese green soup). This soup gets its name from kale. Some partygoers call it "hangover soup" because they'll eat this to sober up from the previous night of festivities.

Vinha d’alhos (pronounced VEEN-a-doshe) is a traditional dish that’s usually made for holiday gatherings. Soak the pork in vinegar and spices for a couple days to achieve that unique flavor.

Malassada is a local favorite in Hawaii, especially during Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on May 5. Visitors wait in long lines at the bakeries to indulge in this sugary treat. Here’s a recipe from Relle Lum, a Maui nurse practitioner who prepared this on PBS’s The Great American Recipe.

Want to learn more about Portuguese culture and food? Get involved with Hawaii’s Portuguese community. Follow the Camoes Portuguese Club Hawaii on Facebook.


Soup’s on!
Nothing says warmth and comfort than a bowl of hearty soup. Here are more soup recipes from our files for cold winter nights or any day of the year.

Vegan kabocha and red lentil stew is a one-pot wonder of warm, satisfying kabocha-ness. And it’s vegan!

The Marauder Cafe, the “live lab” of Waipahu High School’s culinary arts program, offers restaurant-quality lunches twice a week while training students for careers in the food industry. Curry Zucchini Soup is one of their most-requested dishes.

Although it’s not referred to as soup, pastele stew is just as satisfying. We thank the Puerto Ricans for introducing it to Hawaii.

No matter what you call it – jook, congee, or that stuff mom makes when you’re sick – rice porridge is comforting and delicious. While you can make it with turkey, here’s a recipe that calls for rotisserie chicken and brown rice, which is more nutrient dense than white rice.

Celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year with this variation on egg drop soup. Spinach and tofu give this soup, usually served as a pupu, the heartiness to stand on its own.

This pantry-friendly recipe for vegan Greek-style black-eyed peas uses warm Greek spices brightened with a splash of fresh lemon juice. It’s ready in about an hour and tastes better the next day. Serve with warm pita bread.

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