Soups are an essential part of a Portuguese traditional meal. Although the most famous is Caldo Verde, Portugal has a lot to offer when it comes to the magic transformation of a few simple vegetables into a tasty and nutritious meal. Soups are normally a simple affair with only one rule – excellent ingredients – just get seasonal veg at the market and you’ll be fine.
This recipe is for a soup that is traditionally from the north of the country that can be a substantial meal in itself. The Portuguese are rather particular about the quality of beans and there is much to choose from when it comes to varieties. This recipe uses a brown coloured bean called manteiga which is similar to pinto beans. Although you can get beans already cooked in a jar, this soup needs the real thing as most of the flavour will come from the water used to cook the beans.
As with most dried beans, soak overnight in plenty of water (you can soak a larger quantity and then freeze the cooked beans to use in other recipes).
200 gr pinto beans
2 turnips cut into cubes
3 large carrots cut into cubes
1 large onion
Spinach leaves (or nabiças, turnip greens)
- After soaking the beans overnight, rinse in fresh water then cook in a large pot with plenty of water. Add a ‘cloved onion’ (peeled whole onion pierced with the cloves) and sea salt to taste. Cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are soft.
- If you’re cooking a larger quantity of beans remove them for other uses leaving around 200gr in the water, remove the onion and blend with a hand blender.
- Add the turnips and carrots and cook gently for 10 minutes, add the leaves and cook for another ten minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
- Add a generous slug of olive oil, mix gently, taste and correct seasoning if necessary and serve with good crusty bread.