Cape Cod Portuguese Seafood Stew


Real Stew

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In the nineteenth century, portuguese immigrants began populating fishing towns on the Massachusetts coast, especially New Bedford and Fall River. A community of Portuguese fishermen and their families also thrived in Provincetown on Cape Cod and few settled in Truro and Wellfleet. As a result, a good number of traditional old Cape Cod dishes are called Portuguese-style, such as this luscious stew with fish, clams, linguiça sausage, and kale. Many of the local clam shacks on Cape Cod will offer a Portuguese kale soup or a variation on this recipe. Every summer for nearly fifteen years I would take my kids to our little house on Drummer’s Cove, in Wellfleet, and we would make this stew, usually with clams that the kids dug up at low tide near our beach house. The Portuguese-style linguiça sausage is rather easily found in supermarkets in New England, but elsewhere you can use Spanish-style (not Mexican-style) chorizo, hot Italian sausage, Cajun andouille sausage, or Polish kielbasa. The Russian kale I call for in the recipe is a darker-looking kale, but go ahead and use whatever is available.

Makes8 servings

Cooking Methodstewing



Total Timeunder 2 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Moodblue, tired

Taste and Texturerich, savory, smoky, spiced

Type of Dishfish soup, soup


  • ½ cup diced salt pork
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut in half, seeds squeezed out, and grated against the largest holes of a grater down to the peel
  • 1 pound linguiça sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound Russian kale, trimmed of heavier stems and sliced into thin strips
  • 1½ quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds striped bass, sea bass, or other firm-fleshed fish fillets, cut into large chunks
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams (about 2 pounds), soaked in cold water to cover mixed with 1 tablespoon baking soda for 1 hour and drained


  1. In a large casserole, brown the salt pork in the olive oil until crispy over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, linguiça, potatoes; kale, water, wine, thyme, red pepper flakes, saffron, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked, 40 to 45 minutes.

  2. Bring the broth to a furious boil, add the fish and darns, and cook until the clams open, 8 to 10 minutes, Check the seasonings, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, remove any clams that remain tightly closed, and serve.


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