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Ruth O'Donnell's Portuguese Kale Soup

by in Jan 2010
Ruth O’Donnell’s Portuguese Kale Soup
71 votes, 3.80 avg. rating (76% score)
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Total Time: 20

Yield: 8 servings

The best Portuguese Kale Soup recipe is made with linguica - a spicy sausage. Make a batch and see why they call this soup "Portuguese penicillin"!

Ruth learned to make this Portuguese Kale Soup from her mother, who in turn learned it from her adoptive mother. "My mother always used white beans or dark beans, whatever she had," Ruth explains, "but probably 50 years ago, I started adding the 'Bean with Bacon' soup instead of beans. It's what gives this soup its flavor." In addition, what makes this recipe distinctly Portuguese is the linguica—a spicy sausage available in markets on Cape Cod, on the South Shore, and around Boston, but sometimes hard to find elsewhere. If linguica isn't available in your area, use hot sausage or kielbasa.

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Portuguese Kale Soup
Photo/Art by Julie Bidwell


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium-size onions, chopped
  • 1 pound linguiça, sliced, slices halved
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound fresh kale, washed, stems discarded, shredded into small pieces
  • 1 can Campbell's "Bean with Bacon" soup plus 1 can water (or substitute 1 can white beans plus 2 cups chicken broth)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, cubed (russets or your preference)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add oil and cook garlic, onions, and linguiça slices until onions are soft. Add 4 cups chicken broth and kale. Cover, and let kale cook down, stirring occasionally.

Add bean soup and water (or substitute beans and broth); simmer about 5 minutes. (Add more water if the mixture's not dilute enough.) Add cubed potatoes. Simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes longer, till potatoes are soft.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crusty bread.
Updated Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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36 Responses to Ruth O’Donnell’s Portuguese Kale Soup

  1. Dan Charron January 9, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    This kale soup was easy to make and tasted fantastic. I definitely will make it again.

    • Jack Sekol January 1, 2015 at 11:03 am #

      My wife and I love this soup. At times I use Swiss Chard in place of Kale. Sometimes use both. Also sprinkle grated cheese on top. Think I’ll make some today !!

  2. teresa mucci January 20, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Canned soup? you’ve got to be kidding.

    • Carol Griffin February 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      Yes! Campbell’s Bean with Bacon concentrated soup in a can! I’ve been enjoying it plain and as a base since I was a youngster. It might be a little better if you cooked the bacon and beans yourself but not much.
      Campbell’s split pea soup with ham in concentrated form is good, too. Stay away from the ready-to-eat version in a can. It’s awful.

  3. Bette Nyhlen February 2, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Great. Linguica available at Stop and Shop. Use canned small white beans and four slices of cooked chopped bacon rather than the can of Campbells soup. This soup deserves better! Everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. Have made it twice and will do again on this cold weekend.

    • robert tavares April 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      “linguica available at stop and shop”? linguica is available in every grocery store,convenience store,corner market,meat market and even some gas stations!

      • Gay Ludington February 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

        Um, nope. Not if you live in Maryland! You have to search a little harder outside of coastal New England for linguica – Whole Foods or a specialty food shop. This soup sounds fantastic!

      • Katelyn May 6, 2014 at 7:18 am #

        Where are you from? Because no, linguica is not available everywhere.

        • Teresa August 9, 2014 at 11:58 am #

          Just so you know, I lived in Conn. Most of my life and could it linguica just about anywhere. Now I live down south and the ONLY place to get it now is at Publics. And that is the ONLY place I have been able to find it. So if you have one, check there…

    • Van L. Hayhow March 12, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      I traded out the canned soup for a thick slab of pancetta, chopped up, skipped the onions as I hate onions and instead added some chopped up carrots and celery and two cans of cannelini beans with the juice and it was delicious.

  4. Anonymous February 14, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    The best and really easy!!!!

  5. April 5, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    This was wonderful, very flavorful and a new family favorite!!

  6. Sandra Pereira October 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    My husband is from New Bedford, Massachusetts and is Portuguese. His sister showed me how to make Kale soup, but I revised the recipe to our liking. I make it with all of the leftovers of a boiled dinner made with a smoked shoulder ham, including the broth. There is cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions and orange turnip in my boiled dinner. My hubby takes most of the meat off the bone and I soak kidney beans in the broth for an hour or so. I chop up a whole bunch of fresh kale (if if can’t get fresh kale, frozen will do, or collard greens works well, too). Then I boil the beans & kale with the bone until the beans are almost soft. I then chop up all of the leftover vegetable into bite-sized chunks and add them to the pot. Then I add about half of a link of linquica and one piece of chourico, which is another kind of sausage that the Portuguese people eat. Lastly, I add some of the meat from the smoked shoulder and when it’s almost boiling, I shut it off and let it set until it’s just the right temperature for eating. We serve the soup with some Portuguese bread.

    • stephanie August 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      I am from fall river,,my grandparets are from Lisbon..this is how its truly done…thank you for the memory

  7. Siobhan Krane January 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I’ve made this soup several times and can’t get enough of it! Ruth is right about the Bean with Bacon soup. There is a reason Campbell’s has been in business for over a hundred years. I tried it without the B&B soup and it just wasn’t as good.

  8. Jeanne February 16, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Hi I start mine in the crockpot using 2 beef shanks, onion, whole peeled potato, some chirouse 4 cups chicken broth along with 2 bags of frozen baby kale cook all day an hour before serving I add a can of red kidney beans and a can of hominy if you want some crunch. Delicious and filling. Enjoy.

  9. Cindy L February 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Just had to throw in my two cents on this soup. I discovered Ruth’s recipe a few years back and have been making it ever since. I was a little skeptical about using canned soup but it really adds great flavor. Its a little hard to find linquica here in the Midwest so I substitute smoked kielbasa instead. This has become a family favorite.

  10. Judith S. Gilbert February 21, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for Portuguese Kale Soup. Thank you for highlighting it I’m off to the store to buy the ingredients!

  11. S. Zarbo March 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    This is one of the best soups I’ve ever made. I’ve made it with and without the Campbell’s bean and bacon, and I think it’s better with, though I do add another whole can of white beans.

    Here in my area of CT, to my knowledge, linguica is only found at Stop & Shop and some other, smaller, markets.

  12. Nancy March 31, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Oh my! I was looking for a recipe for Portuguese Kale soup tonight and found this one. I was curious about Ruth after reading the article so read more and learned that she was born 100 years ago today. It sounds like she was a wonderful person. I know she is living on in the people she loved…but she is also lives on to many more with her Kale Soup recipe. I can’t wait to make it.

  13. Ben Kettlewell April 16, 2014 at 2:26 am #

    Hi Ruth,

    Are you the same ruth I know on FaceBook?

    Great recipe. I still use Joe & wilbur Cook’s mother’s recipe, but yours is right up there.

  14. Former Cape Codder May 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    There’s no Portuguese sausage where we live in the mid-west. We mail order it from Mello’s in Fall River, MA. Can’t live without kale soup!

  15. Jenny July 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    I just got back from Cape Cod (I live in Colorado) and I only got to enjoy kale soup once. Shout out to The Quarterdeck in Falmouth.

    I was craving it today and came across this recipe. I found linguica at a specialty meat store. They make it in-house. This blew me away. There must be cinnamon or nutmeg in the sausage. This gives this delightful soup the smell and taste I remember from growing up on the Cape. Unfortunately, kielbasa won’t have this memorable nuance.

    This soup is amazing. I added an extra 1.5 cans of water, only did one potato and added 1/2 can of white beans in addition to the B&B soup. Just don’t read the ingredients on the soup. I figure all the other ingredients are organic, so hopefully that will cancel out the soup. Enjoy!

  16. kelley November 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Never substitute kielbasa. Never. Call Amaral’s Meat Market in New Bedford, or Michael’s in Fall River, MA and they will ship you chourico.

    • Marianne December 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

      @Kelly. Boy, are you right! I used the smoked kielbasa. Blah! There is no linguica within 30 miles of my town. If I want to make this again (I’m gun-shy now, though) I will have to special order it online.

  17. Cynthia Jackson December 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    I was born and raised in Fall River, MA. My grandparents came from Portugual. I grew up eating Portuguese soup and still love it so much. I now live in Virginia and found a store in Virginia Beach, VA, Krogers that carried my loved chirico, it comes from Amaral’s in Fall River. I will try your receipe using the bean with bacon soup. Thank you so much for posting your soup receipe. There is nothing finer than Portuguese saugage and food.

  18. Joanne December 4, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    sounds father always cooked [finely sliced]a nice piece of sirloin steak in with the onions..

  19. jon doe December 5, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    I lived in Provincetown, in the 60’s. Love the soup! (and flipper dough). This is one of the meals I make when my wife goes out of town. She’s not a fan of greens. I’ll have to try this recipe next.
    Hi Ben.

  20. Eric DeSouza December 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    Bacon does not belong in kale soup, nevermind canned soup. Furthermore, I never in my life heard malasadas referred to as “flippers”.

    Back to the soup…

    The one HUGE missing item here is pork neck bones. That is your stock, not chicken broth from a box. You should pressure cook the pork neck bones for about 20 minutes (after pressurization). The pork can be substituted for beef soup bone. Do not discard the stock, use it after you sautee your onion, garlic, linguica/chourico.

    Here is the short version:
    1. sautee onion, garlic, linguica
    2. pressure cook some pork neck bones (add some salt) for 20 min
    3. for best results, soak beans overnight and pressure cook those for 20 min
    4. add the stock from the pork to your sauteed onion/garlic/linguica
    5. puree a small amount of the beans and add to soup
    6. add fresh kale, chopped (make sure to wash the leaves really really well)
    7. add additional veggies that you like (carrots, potatoes, celery all acceptable)
    8. boil for 20-30 min
    9. add macoroni elbows if you want it a little heartier

    • Steve Strojny December 17, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      What exactly are pork neck bones and where can I get them? I live on Cape Cod, but eat out in New Bedford and Fall River quite often when I want good Portuguese food.

      • Aimee Seavey December 18, 2014 at 9:42 am #

        Hi Steve! Like all bones, neck bones don’t have much meat, but lend a lot of flavor. You should be able to find them at any butcher shop, or ask someone in the meat department of your local grocery store. Happy soup making!

    • Leonor January 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      I absolutely agree with you Eric.

  21. Leonor January 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I consider it bordering sacrilege to add Campbell’s Pork & Beans to this dish. Portuguese soup is NOT made with any canned product.

    • Jack King November 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      It’s Bean and Bacon . Not Pork and Beans .this is Ruth’s recipe not yours.This soup is wonderful.

  22. Frank April 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    I made this soup a couple of weeks ago without adding the bean soup and much to my surprise my teenagers loved it.I made it again today at the request of my son. I told him he would have to help me. I could not find Linguica in the store so I substituted 1lb of Regular Smoked Beef Sausage and 1lb of Spicy Smoked Beef Sausage. I also used red potatoes and did not peel them. The soup was so good. Did not need any additional salt at all.

  23. Jack King November 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    I knew Ruth and her neice Beta. She was a wonderful woman and fine cook
    I love this soup.i use the Campbell’s Bean and Bacon and a can of small white beans. I add a table spoon of red wine vinegar at the end. This was the way she made her soup.If you do not want to add a cab of B&B soup do not make this recipe. Your loss.

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