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Portuguese-Style White Bean Soup with Chicken and Bacon

Portuguese-Style White Bean Soup with Chicken and Bacon

This stick-to-your-ribs soup is comforting on a chilly fall or winter day.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus soaking time for beans
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 to 12 servings


  • 1 pound dried white beans, such as white kidney (cannellini) or great Northern, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 quarts Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound diced cooked chicken
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano, for garnish


  • Put the beans into a large pot or bowl. Add water to cover by 2 inches and soak for at least 8 hours or overnight, then drain. For a quick soak, bring the beans and water to a boil over high heat and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 1 hour. Drain.

  • Fry the bacon in a heavy medium stockpot over medium-high heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift onto paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pot. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots soften, about 1 minute.

  • Add the beans to the pot with the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

  • Stir in the chicken and the reserved bacon and heat through. Remove and discard bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

  • Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Recipe Details