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Ruth O'Donnell's Portuguese Kale Soup

by in Jan 2010

Total Time: 20

Yield: 8 servings

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.


    • 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 Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
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23 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.

  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.

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