Portuguese Bean Soup

Portuguese Bean Soup
Portuguese Bean Soup, with a spoonful of tender Portuguese Sausage, kidney beans, carrot, potato and macaroni. Yum!

Portuguese Bean Soup (Sopa de Feijao) is another Hawaii favorite that can often be found at local eateries as the soup of the day or as a regular menu item. This is comfort food at its best.

With the surplus of leftover Portuguese Sausage I had in the refrigerator from the recent “Portuguese Sausage Shootout“, instead of freezing the remaining uncooked sausage, I took this opportunity to use it all up and make this dish.

The following recipe is my rendition, with references from Auntie Lynn and Reid over at Ono ‘Kine Grindz. Mahalo!

Portuguese Bean Soup
Serves approx. 10-12

3 Smoked Ham Hocks (these are usually available in the meat freezer section. Make sure they’re SMOKED)
1 Large Portuguese Sausage (any brand), cut into bite-size pieces (I used MUCH more than 1 for this batch, since that’s how much I had)
1 bag of dry kidney beans
1-2 cups (uncooked) macaroni (add more or less at your discretion)
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 white round onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (save some extra unchopped for garnish)
2 bay leaves
1 six oz. can Tomato Paste (this will help to slightly thicken it)
1 fourteen oz. can Stewed Tomatoes
1 fourteen oz. can chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
5 quart (or larger) pot or dutch oven
*Options: You can also add chopped celery and/or cabbage. I didn’t because there was no room for it. You can also substitute canned Kidney Beans for the uncooked type used here.

The most important part of this soup is the ham hock soup stock base it’s started with. This provides the dish with its “porky”, slightly smoky signature.

Ham Hocks & Cilantro
Ham Hocks & Cilantro (Chinese Parlsey)

Begin by placing the 3 ham hocks, 1 bay leaf and the chopped cilantro in the pot, then add the can of chicken stock and just just enough water to cover the ham hocks. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for approximately 2-1/2 hours, covered to prevent evaporation. Note that this is a stock-making process, so you don’t put all the ingredients in from the start, as they’ll obviously over-cook and become mush.

This will give you time to prepare the uncooked kidney beans. First wash and rinse them in a collander, then place in a pot of water, bring to boil for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit in the heated water for about an hour, check for tenderness (bite-test one), then drain the now ready-to-use beans in the collander.

The uncooked kidney beans as they’re first placed in the pot with water

Prepare the cut-up Portuguese Sausage by frying them until slightly browned, then place on paper towel to drain oil…

After over 2 hours of simmering, the ham hock stock will look like this…

PBS stock made with ham hocks, cilantro, bay leaf, chicken stock and water

Notice the rich brown color and the porky aroma! Fish out the now-tender ham hocks and place them on a cutting board, let them cool, then remove the meat from bone with a fork and knife and discard the bone…

Tender, fully cooked ham hocks with meat removed

Now you begin throwing everything else into the pot of what you have now is essentially ham hock stock, enhanced by the Bay Leaves and Cilantro. Add the pulled ham hock meat (including the fat if you like it even more decadently tasty!), kidney beans, Portuguese Sausage, uncooked macaroni, potatoes, chopped onions, carrots, crushed garlic, the other bay leaf and stewed tomatoes (don’t add the tomato paste yet), then add enough water to cover, and let it simmer for about another hour, stirring occasionally.

The finished pot of Portuguese Bean Soup

Finish it by stirring in the tomato paste by spoonfuls until the soup reaches the desired thickness and taste. Some like it more “tomato-ey” than others. Up to you. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste, then ring the bell for dinner and enjoy!

Garnish each bowl with a sprig of Cilantro and serve with your favorite bread and butter (personally I like Safeway’s French Bread with plenty of margarine spread on it) or soda crackers.


Portuguese Bean Soup — 70 Comments

  1. Pomai,

    Awesome images! You and your family must have really enjoyed this one!

    I can’t wait until the wife make this again ! Three days of constant futts for me but welcomed ones!

    Your blog is definitly on top of the food chain! Thanks for keeping me in suspense of what you are coming up with next! Truly moa bettah than watching the Food Channel!

  2. I was looking at some news online. Then came across a video of Brazil, it mentioned a nation dish. To state is in simple terms, “man I was, hungry” after seeing that”. The last time I did a whole lot of home made cooking (stuff not in da cook books) I was taking some classes in Wahiawa. Home made Kime Chee (ouch) and some home made, portuguese bean soup. What a grind.

  3. I was looking at some news online. Then came across a video of Brazil, it mentioned a nation dish. To state is in simple terms, “man I was, hungry” after seeing that”. The last time I did a whole lot of home made cooking (stuff not in da cook books) I was taking some classes in Wahiawa. Home made Kim Chee (ouch) and some home made, portuguese bean soup. What a grind. Luck you fella stay hawai’i.

  4. Keoahu, you could easily duplicate this Portuguese Bean Soup recipe if you’re located on the mainland by substituting what they call “Linguica” which is actually the proper term for the sausage. While not quite the same as Hawaii’s “local style” Portuguese sausage in flavor, the results should be similar and just as good if you follow the recipe. Another key component is the smoked ham hocks. Make sure you have that, which should be available at most supermarkets.



      • Leo, excellent tip on using the smoked ham shank (thighs) instead of ham hocks (ankle area) for more meat, as I think the fork-tender smoked ham meat is just as important to the overall flavor of Portuguese Bean Soup as the Portuguese Sausage. And if it’s mostly fat, well, that ain’t exactly desirable. I mean, yeah, the fat adds flavor, but you also want lean smoked ham meat to chew on as well.

  6. kRAZy K, glad to hear the recipe came out great. The quality of the ham hocks will certainly reflect the outcome of this dish. I made a pot one time, and the ham hocks weren’t smoked enough, resulting in a rather characterless PBS. They were also kinda’ freezer-burnt, robbing them of that rich “porky” flavor.

    What surprised me was how thin the PBS was at the Portuguese Festa. I prefer mine more on the thick side (at least enough to lightly coat the backside of a spoon), so that it sticks to the bread or soda cracker when dipped in it. Winnah laddat.

  7. Aloha, I had followed the instructions and i tell you ONO. I added a little of my tutu’s local style to it but not much.

    Much Mahalo’s

  8. Thanx to my gorgeous man in Hawaii, this recipe has travelled Down Under to Australia. I have to use Spanish Chorizo for the sausage as it the nearest thing here we have and is a perfect substitute, and as christmas has just finished here, I used the Ham bone left over from Christmas Day instead of Ham hocks (it was triple smoked so was spot on!!) I used cabbage instead of carrot as I prefer the cabbage

    Having been introduced to it in Hawaii, I always need to have a little of Hawaii around me. Now I have a HUGE pot full. It tastes bloody GREAT! Even if I do say so myself.

    My Maori friends are now going to add it to their book of what they lovingly refer to as Boil Ups and start a whole new tradition down here.

    Thank you. Oh, I should have taken pictures too.

  9. I just finished making this and it turned out so ONOLICIOUS!!! Thanks for a wonderful recipe that brings back memories of growing up in the islands…

  10. I am 60 years old. My grandma on my mom’s side is pure Potruguese and spoke Portuguese. She made bean soup often and I loved to eat it with a nice hunk of fresh bread lathered with butter. I have eaten and made bean soup all my life and to me it is part of living.

  11. FYI,
    Folks, for this past Super Bowl, I made some Portuguese Bean Soup. A lot of folks around these parts had no idea (ats why hard). After some shopping around I expressed my idea to a friend. This was a do able thing. And of course it woud be hard to find the right sausage, to complete the project. With some assistance I managed to place a order for some Portuguese Sausage (fresh made, mo’ betta). In the famous words of “Brada IZ” can! Also a note of thanks to, Pomai, mahalo plenty.

  12. Howzit Keoahu, and you’re welcome! Did you use my/auntie lynn/reid’s recipe? Also, what kind/brand of Portuguese Sausage did you use?

    Now with this talk about it, I wanna’ make another pot! Besides, it’s pretty cool and chilly right now in Honolulu and would be a good time for it.

  13. Aloha,

    I always use this recipe and then add a little of my Tutu’s stuff . I have used this several times and this is the best to follow.

    Much Mahalo’s Again.


  14. Rick, glad to hear the recipe is working out for you. Thanks again also to Auntie Lynn and Reid over at Ono Kine Grindz for providing the guidelines for it.

  15. Just made a batch of the PBS, man-o-man that ‘s some delicious chow! I wish my Dad was alive to taste it! I keep saying I will try a new recipe but then I use this one again!

    From the Mainland, but wishin I was there!



  16. Aloha David, glad to hear yet another success using this recipe. I think I’m going to have to make a pot myself very soon!

  17. Greetings, this is a genuinely absorbing internet blog and I’ve cherished studying numerous of your content and posts contained on the internet website, keep up the excellent function and want to read a great deal extra stimulating articles in the long term.


    • Big mahaloz for the recipe! I’m curious how that would turn out if I were to substitute the pork butt with fish. Particularly, fish varieties that may be able to replicate the flavor and texture of pork. I’m thinkin’ of combining Butterfish (Black Cod/Sablefish) and Marlin, with the Butterfish offering the fatty factor, while the Marlin offers the tougher, “meaty” factor.

      Guess I’ll just have to try it myself to find out! Portuguese Fish Sausage! Woo!

  19. I am a local girl now living in Pennsylvania for about 10 years now. I appreciate your reviews on local establishments and this portuguese bean soup recipe. Just came back from a short visit and of course we brought home portuguese sausage and decided to make the soup. Will continue to check out your website.

  20. Kerri, if you follow this recipe to the T, I can almost guarantee you’ll be very pleased with it. Key is to use SMOKED ham hocks and a couple bay leaves when making the stock.

    • Hey, Pomai:

      One way to make this more fat-friendly is to substitute smoked turkey legs for the hocks. I think they might be available in Hawaii… being in Alabama, I can usually find them in my local grocery. Cook the same way, and pick the meat off the bones. It has a very Ham-my flavor (I sometimes don’t tell people that it is turkey and they swear they are eating ham!)and you can discard the turkey skins as they tend to be rubbery. (I juilenne them to give some chewy, tripe-like bites in the soup) I use them as a base for my Cajun Red Beans and Rice too! Aloha and go lose those last 5 pounds!

      • Keith,

        There’s a new local microbrew pub here called Aloha Beer Company, located next to Sam Choy’s BLC in the Iwilei area, where they have smoked turkey leg on the pupu (appetizer) menu. To which I hear tastes pretty much like smoked ham. Sure looks like ham in color. Very pink-red. The darker/fattier meat of course. I’m curious how much exactly that saves less in saturated fat vs. ham hocks.

        To be honest, I’m not really sweatin’ on calorie count anymore, as my metabolism is back to full burn, without much “yo-yo effect” on the scale. I’ll go up like a pound or two, then go back down to where I was, and lower. All about burning by exercise, staying in cal-deficit mode. Calories and weight notwithstanding, of course we all still need to keep tabs on cholesterol numbers. That alone can be a coronary killer.

    • I am asking for foodie advice…are there any sit down family restaurants that you would recommend on Oahu for dinner? I took my haole husband to Likelike Drive Inn, Big City Diner, and Kenny’s. We are thinking of going to the Alley and New Eagle Café. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks, appreciate your input.

      • Kerri,

        For reasonably affordable family dining and excellent food, try any of these:

        Zippy’s (any location that has dine-in restaurant, not takeout; order the Zip Min… the best!)
        Asahi Grill (order the Oxtail Soup for sure!)
        Wailana Coffee Shop (Eggs Benedict)
        People’s Cafe (Hawaiian grinds)
        Bac Nam (Vietnamese)
        Kin Wah (Chinese in Kaneohe; as always; order family style)
        Spaghetti Factory (generic, yes, Italian American, yes, affordable and nice ambiance, yes)
        Pho Bistro II (Vietnamese, specializing in Oxtail Soup too!)
        Mexico Restaurant (Italian… j/k, it’s Mexican with a really cool ambiance at an otherwise seedy area; walk next door to Kamehameha Bakery for dessert!)
        Camellia (Korean Yakiniku buffet; $15 per person last I checked)
        Pagoda (all you can eat buffet $20/person for lunch with a cool fish pond that will keep the kids entertained)

        Give me more specific ideas of what your family wants to eat, and I can give you more suggestions. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with any of the above.

        • Thank you for all the suggestions! Since we’ll be staying in Waikiki, I think we will give the Wailana Coffee Shop a try. Should I need further advice, I will be sure to hit you up again for more suggestions, hope you don’t mind.

  21. Mahalo for the wonderful recipe. Made 2 pots of soup, one for our house and one for a party. What a hit!! So ono. Soup sure didn’t last long. Our tummies are really happy.

  22. I was online looking for a good recipe for Super bowl Sunday and came across your blog! I’m from Hilo but have lived in the Seattle area for years now…so needless to say your blog has made me homesick and hungry!! I will book mark your site and check back…I love it!! Take care!!

    • Ditto. Pasta is simply cheap and not very nutritious.It gets soggy and distracts. It should be salad or yukon potato, and a moderate amount at that.

    • Ed,

      There’s an interesting article regarding the origins of Macaroni Salad, the local plate lunch staple, here:


      “Even at that time, there was two scoops rice, mac salad and choice of stew or whatever,” said Hiura.

      But who combined the two for the salad?

      “The Portuguese,” guessed Randy Francisco, culinary expert at Kapiolani Community College.

      “Possibly the Portuguese,” said Kondo Corum.

      “Could be Portuguese,” said Barbara Kawakami, a writer who has studied Hawaii’s early immigrants.

      Not so, said chef John Peru, author of “Portuguese Cuisine in Hawaii.”

      Peru believes macaroni salad came via the hotels when chefs and cooks from Italy and Switzerland came to work in the islands. They had picked up the dish in New York where they worked when they first immigrated to America.

      “There was this restaurant in New York, Delmonico’s. It was on the menu and was very, very popular in 1901,” Peru said.”

      Hmmm. As for Macaroni (pasta, which is not far from Spain over in Italy of the major European continents) being incorporated into Portuguese Bean Soup, my guess is that was just a “ration” thing by Hawaii sugarcane and pineapple plantation workers using whatever it is they had. You must remember, they were all very poor laborers, where from their influence, I’ve seen everything from cabbage, to corn, to poi as thickener in making Portuguese Bean Soup, “local” style. Just like most other “local” dishes, SPAM Musubi and Saimin included, they’re all loose cultural hybrid adaptations of the pure-bred original recipes.

      • As a historical aside, Portugese bean soup appears to be a variation on the Italian Minestrone soup. Minestrone dates back to Roman times and probably migrated to Portugal as the Empire expanded. (It is also possible that the basic vegetable soup, being common practices in almost every culture, could be an example of parallel evolution) Regardless of origin, they are both vegetable soups that evolved from the need to use leftover / available vegetables by cooking them in a soup stock. The seasonal vegetables aside, the key DNA they appear to share is the addition of two staple long-term storage items: beans and pasta (Wikipedia notes that rice was sometimes used instead of pasta). The Portugese logically enhanced the soup with the addition of linguica! Crafty buggahs them Pordagees!

  23. Aloha! Dang, I can’t even wait to make this!!! Looks so delivious and comforting. We visited my parents home in Kane’ohe for Christmas and New Years and ate so many Ono foods! Okinawan, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Hawaiian! Such fun…but no more Portugese Bean soup left? Mom sent me home with tons of Hot Portugee sausage. I’m glad I found your receipe! Looks so thick and delicious! Thanks for hooking us up here on da mainland : ) I’ll be making this In a few days. Yummy!
    Mahalo, Liana

    • Liana,

      Again, the trick is extracting as much flavor as possible out of the smoked ham hocks during the stock-making process. I’d also suggest modifying this recipe just a bit by doing a mirepoix (diced onion, celery and carrot) saute, to start the stock-making process off. You mention thickness, which the trick is the tomato paste. Add that at the end and adjust to taste.

      Please let us know how it turns out.

      • Cashier the hocks and buy the shanks. Three shank slices have the meat of 3 hocks and they freeze beautifully. For a year at least in a Ziplock or comp.

  24. Love your blog, spent the past hour or two stuck looking thru everything, lol!

    One thing is true, so many versions for Portuguese soup. I mostly stick to the basics my Mom taught me, pretty close to your recipe minus the cilantro. I used to use ham hocks, until I worked for this one chef who swore by smoked ham shanks – and wow, what a difference ! More meat, a ton more flavor and most important, more of those fat marrow bones to suck out all the flavor!!

    aside from that, depending on how I feel, might add celery/carrot potato – or not. Sometimes, comfort food like this – simple is da bes :)

    • Ditto.
      Shanks way better than hocks. Two large slices, three if one small. Two medium salad potatoes way better and nutritious than macaroni. Celery is fine, and add the leaves chopped. Some of the celery and onion tips should be finely chopped to add body. I also fine chop one fat sausage and if slices are wanted, coin the smaller one, usually a sweet sausage. I use shredded cabbage for thickener, but sometimes watercress.
      I think you and I would be in the same place in kitchen.

      • yea, pretty much seems so lol. I use cabbage too, but a little more chunky as it tends to “melt”. My ex’s Portuguese family made it with watercress, but they use a lot of different seasonings, cumin mostly – to different a taste for me. salt, pepper, maybe some garlic powder ..occasionally a touch of basil. But really, the true flavor should be those ham shanks. darn, gunna have to go store and get some ingrediments :P

  25. I’m an old haole who loved and lived in Hawaii for 20 years–mostly in Enchanted Lakes, Kailua. Made your PBS recently and broke a few mouths-many thanks for the awesome recipe. If any of your readers have the recipe for The Coral Reef’s crispy kau(gau) gee mien I would dearly love to have it. Used an old one from the Advertiser but nothing beats the Coral Reef’s. :-) :-) :-)) :-

    • Aloha Don,

      Glad to hear the PBS recipe turned out great!

      As it turns out, the Coral Reef was a Chinese restaurant in Ala Moana Shopping Center that was part of the Andrew Wong empire, along with Byron’s Drive-In by the airport, Byron II in Ala Moana, Andy’s Drive-In in Kailua, the Chowder House in Ward Warehouse, and Wong’s Okazu-Ya also Ala Moana (along with a few others I may have left out).

      We were recently discussing Kin Wah Chop Suey in Kaneohe (where I grew up) on Facebook. If you’re from Enchanted Lakes, surely you must have dined at Kin Wah Chop Suey in Kaneohe (corner of Kamehameha Hwy. and Luluku Rd., across Windward City Shopping Center). That’s like THE BEST Chinese restaurant on the windward side, hands-down (well some folks say Pake’s is better).

      I will say, Kin Wah’s Crispy Gau Gee is EXCELLENT, and was always my sister’s favorite dish there. She could scarf the whole plate herself if given the chance. lol It was served by itself (with the Chinese mustard and shoyu sauce), however, looking at their menu, they also have Gau Gee Mein (soup). See Kin Wah’s menu here:

      When you say Crispy Gau Gee Mien, I take it’s served with noodles. My question is, was it a hot noodle soup with the Crispy Gau Gee on top? or was it a stir-fried noodle dish served with the Gau Gee on it?

      Try throw the question out at HawaiiThreads.com. Or perhaps in a group on Facebook. I tried seeing if there were FB community groups on Kailua and/or Enchanted Lakes, but couldn’t find any. Odd.

      • Thanks for your reply and the info re Wong’s various eateries. I ate at the reef about every 2 weeks for 20 years and could never get by the crispy gau gee. Visitors from China suggested it was best ever. Their sauce and fried noodles were extraordinary.
        Unfortunately when Ala Moana started to go boutique the Reef closed.

        The mien is stir fried, the noodles are quick blanched and then pan fried in the wok, then the whole mess is gathered together with the gau gee along the side. I don’t think you could find a bad Chinese restaurant in Hawaii. If you have Kin Wah’s recipe I could ‘chancum’

        • I think my sister knows how to accurately replicate Kin Wah’s Crispy Gau Gee. I’ll ask her and get back to you.

          As for the stir-fried mien noodles, it will probably come down to using the right brand of Oyster Sauce (preferably Lee Kum Kee), and a REALLY HOT WOK. Now you have me intrigued. I’m gonna’ have to order this next time in Kaneohe at Kin Wah!

  26. I’m a black local boy from Wahiawa, and when I moved to the mainland I have been using this recipe for over 10yrs .. It’s the best ! You cant go wrong …

  27. Hi ! currently simmering , tastes great, I put in a wee bit to much macaroni, should have maybe added 1.5 cups only.


    thanks for posting


  28. Please correct one thing: Portuguese people in Portugal and Azores do not…

    I repeat, do not used Cilantro at all. I am Portuguese from Azores. They used

    Parsley thats it. Cilantro is popular for Mexico and Eastern Asian. You are

    using wrong Cilantro for this AWESOME soup. We use the parlsey. More

    popular in Western Europe. Its taste better. Cilantro is horrible and disgusting

    smell and taste awful! 

    • azoreseuropa,

      Keep in mind, like most of the Portuguese dishes here in Hawaii, this take on Portuguese bean soup has been adapted to “local tastes” dating all the way back to the plantation. Including the use here of Cilantro (a.k.a. Chinese Parsley) in this soup. Clearly an influence from various asian cultures here in the islands (mainly the Chinese). I’m surprised you also didn’t get all crazy about the use of Macaroni in it.

      To understand more about the influence of Portuguese cuisine here in Hawaii, you really should get a copy of this book ‘Hawaii Cooks: A Portuguese Kitchen with an Island Twist‘. I have a copy of it that I’ll dig up and share more later.

        Pomai and azoreseuropa,
        I have the cookbook “Hawaii Cooks: A Portuguese Kitchen Traditional Recipes with an Island Twist” and Author Wanda A. Adams cooks specifically from the Hawaiian Islands. She laments in the cookbook that she doesn’t know where Portuguese Bean Soup in the Islands came from when the main dish in Portugal is “Green Soup”!
        Come on Wanda—You are only looking at mainland Portugal and if you trace it back it comes from the Azores with a little mix-in from New England Portuguese sailors.
        I have the cookbooks “The New Portuguese Table” by David Leite from Fall River, MA. Azorean cooking by birth and family which traces three Portuguese bean soup recipes and “Gather Round the Grill” by Chef George Hirsch that document Portuguese Bean Soup and the Azores and New England connection.
        When I grew up in RI we use to make Portuguese Bean soup sometime with elbow macaroni and sometimes without because my neighborhood was made up of Azorean Portuguese, Cape Verdean and Italian.
        A lot of Portuguese foods came from the Azores and New England to Hawaii and all that has happened is the recipes have been adjusted to what you grow in the islands. Portuguese foods taste entirely different in New England than in Hawaii and that’s why you don’t like Portuguese sausage from New England because it is spicier than what is made in islands. Malasadas in Hawaii are little balls and in New England they are flat large Frisbees.

      • I understand and I forgot to tell you that I am Portuguese born there in Azores, Portugal through parents cooking and I know about the old tradition and you should try and follow their old tradition. Its delicious and a little bit different from Massachusetts and Rhode Island like Ken says. Cheers!

  29. Ken,

    You are right. I likePortuguese sausage from New England. I moved to RI with my parents but I prefer Portugal/Azores sausage better than New England. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thought with us.


    Hawaii people should learn from a true culture of Portugal and Azores instead. :)

      If you are living in RI then you’ll appreciate the following, I’ve eaten all the local Fall River and New Bedford Portuguese sausage makers’ chourico and linguica. Gaspar’s is the meatiest and Mello’s has that middle of the road flavor.
      Far and above all of the commercial Portuguese sausage makers in New Bedford and Fall River is a gift of old Portuguese tradition of small batch hand-made Portuguese sausage. You can find it at:     
      J C Portuguese American Market, 65 Brookside Ave, West Warwick, RI 02893
      When you walk in you’ll most likely see the little ladies dressed in white sitting around a stainless steel table hand marinating chunks of pork or chopping it up and hand stuffing the links. There is a refrigerated display of all the smoked chourico, linguica and other sausages separated into categories of fat content for you to purchase.
      Once you tried these chourico, linguica sausages, you’ll never go back to bulk commercial made.

      • Sorry about not giving you a specific but I am Portuguese and born in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal. I know all about it. In Portugal’s sausages is better than chourico (SPICY) and linguinca (NOT SPICY) here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. However, I still enjoy them here in America anyway.

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