Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Portuguese Bean Soup Thermal Bento

Today's wacky weather included warm (50F) sunshine, rain, dark clouds, blue sky and even hail. Whew! This unsettled weather calls for hearty nourishing food. I made Portuguese bean soup, a local Hawaii favorite and a hit with everyone in the family. I adapted Sam Choy's recipe to make mine.
Portuguese Bean Soup

2 smoked ham hocks
4C chicken broth and 4C water (or all chicken broth if you prefer)
1C diced carrots
1C diced potato
1 diced onion
1C diced celery
1 head cabbage, cut into 1" cubes
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped into 1" cubes
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 Portuguese sausage, sliced
1/2C dried macaroni

In a large stockpot, boil ham hocks in broth and water, then simmer until meat is tender. This part makes the house smell REALLY good and gives the soup its distinctive rich taste. Remove skin and bones from ham hocks, return meat to pot. Add remaining ingredients except beans, sausage and macaroni and continue to cook about 20 minutes. Return soup to a boil and add beans, sausage and macaroni, then simmer another 15 minutes or until macaroni is done. Garnish with cilantro. You don't even need to add salt or pepper; this soup is very flavorful and delicious. The recipe is easy to adapt to your preferences; you may add or subtract whatever vegetables you choose. My kids each asked for seconds, and I bet yours will too. The recipe makes a lot of soup, and it tastes even better the next day.
I took this opportunity to pack my other thermal jar; this one from Stanley. I'd used it before for chili, and I know it works very well, but I didn't show a picture last time. So here's what it looks like packed. As with the Zojirushi container, I preheated with hot water for a few minutes, then replaced the water with my preheated soup.
The side bowl of fruit was packed separately in his lunch tote. The Stanley jar insulates very well, and the heat doesn't conduct to the outer surface so this method worked well. He gets sliced blood oranges, a strawberry, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, a carrot and some peapods. I love this jar because it comes with a sealing lid as well as an outer cap which can be inverted and used as a soup bowl (shown with a spoon in the picture). A nice option for kids who have a hard time eating out of the jar itself. Can you tell I love this jar?


  1. This reminds me of being a kid! My mother always packed hot lunches for us a thermos. Thank you again for sharing and inspiring! M xx

  2. Really? That's great! I don't think I ever had a hot packed thermos. It's a nice option in the cold months though. Thanks a lot Marfio :)

  3. I'm enjoying seeing all of the thermal bento posts! I saw the pic of your soup on Twitter yesterday, wow! It looks delicious!

  4. Oh.. so gorgeous.. Your photos are jumping out at me with all that luscious colour! Mmm.. this is great soup for our weather here. I'd love a bowl!

  5. Ooooh, I think you've sold me on this thermal bento! It seems perfect. Your soup looks like perfect comfort food :D

  6. Aw... makes me remember my mother. So good soup! Definitely the best way to eat lots of veggies... full of flavor and textures!
    I like the thermal container! How does MM take his lunch to school? A separate lunchbag or inside his school bag? Just wondering... hubs is taking lunch but he takes the box inside his laptop back bag.. a prob if it is soup :/

  7. Thanks Heather -- it's suddenly SO COLD! Now I'm getting a lot of use out of these thermals!

    Thanks ChantaleP! I love these soup bentos. They're so convenient and my boy is loving 'em. :)

    Thanks Natakiya; I love a thick hearty soup or stew on a cold winter day. Now that our weather is so frigid, I guess it's coming in handy :)

    karaimame, I love the way I can stuff whatever vegetables I want into the soup and they both eat everything without question. So awesome, heh. This one is small so MM can carry it in his regular insulated tote bag which he then packs into his book bag. This thermos is completely leakproof so it doesn't matter if he swings it around. It really is perfect.

  8. oooh yum! another thermal! How many DO you have?? I might need to give this recipe a try!! :)

  9. Mrs. P, I have two thermals, and I'm planning to review them side by side, in a way. This one is smaller and more manageable for my 7 year old. And this soup is delicious; you really must try it!