Portuguese Fennel Soup

Portuguese Fennel Soup

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Vickie Parks


This recipe is the most common use of fennel in the Azores. Fennel found in most markets are a somewhat flattened white bulb at the base of leafy green stems. Shop around for a fennel bulb with the most leafy greens (because some stores will strip away most of the lush green leafy stalks).

There are different versions of this recipe, but this is a basic recipe for this soup. Those on the island of Terceira would add pig's knuckles for added flavor, and residents of Graciosa Island would add carrots to the broth. And many Azoreans prefer to make this without any meat at all.


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6 to 8
8 Hr 20 Min
1 Hr 45 Min
Stove Top


  • 1 1/2 c
    dried white kidney beans
  • 1 lb
    pork ribs
  • 8 c
  • 2 bunch
    feathery fennel leaves (or 2 fennel bulbs with green leaves)
  • 1 medium
    onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 clove
    garlic, finely chopped
  • 1
    bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp
    ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp
    black pepper
  • 3
    savoy cabbage leaves, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large
    new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 c
    sliced scallions, dark green stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp
    olive oil
  • 1/2 lb
    linguica (spicy smoked pork sausage), cut about 1/8-inch rounds

How to Make Portuguese Fennel Soup


  1. The day before cooking: 1) Soak beans overnight in enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. 2) Rub the ribs with the coarse salt and chill overnight or at least 8 to 12 hours.
  2. When ready to prepare: Drain and rinse the beans; set aside.
  3. Wipe any excess salt from the ribs and place in a 4-quart stockpot with the rinsed beans and 8 cups of water. Cover, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is tender and the beans are easily mashed (about 1 hour). Occasionally skim any residue from the surface.
  4. Meanwhile, trim and discard coarse stems from the fine feathery fennel leaves. Finely chop enough leaves to yield 2 cups. (If you are using fennel bulbs, discard the outer layer. Separate sections of the bulbs, rinse well, and coarsely chop.) Set fennel aside.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, cloves, and black pepper to the pot. Simmer 5 minutes, add the fennel leaves, and chopped bulb if using, along with the cabbage, potatoes, scallions, olive oil, and sausage. Return the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer until the potatoes are done and the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Usually this soup needs no additional salt, but taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

Printable Recipe Card

About Portuguese Fennel Soup

Course/Dish: Bean Soups
Main Ingredient: Pork
Regional Style: Portugese

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