Caldo Verde (Portuguese kale soup – green broth) is the most famous soup in Portugal. Not to be confused with Via Verde which is a gadget you put in your car for toll roads and not quite as tasty (ha ha). It is consumed all year around but especially at Portuguese celebrations e.g. Festivals, weddings and birthdays etc. It is served before a main meal as a starter or you can eat it as a lunch or late supper. The main ingredients are Kale, Portuguese smoked sausage (sliced chouriço or linguiça) and potatoes. It is usually accompanied with cornbread. Apparently tradition is to cut the collard greens into strips and not to chop them. If you don’t cut it into strips, it is not Caldo Verde.
Some varieties also contain bacon and if you are vegetarian or vegan you can omit the sausage and bacon. If you like a thicker creamier soup then add more potatoes. If you like it more thinner then use less potatoes or add more water. It is a cheap, home-cooked hearty comfort food. Up to now I have avoided Caldo Verde as I thought it was just cabbage soup and I remember the 1980’s cabbage soup diet very well – never again! Then I realised it has Portuguese sausage in it and I am quite partial to a Portuguese sausage – (ha ha). There are so many recipes out there to choose from. I used this website below as this is where I found our Bacalhau recipe that I made for our 5th wedding anniversary meal and it was an average success. I used home grown organic greens straight from our vegetable patch in our garden. Hubby and I had fun making this soup together after a beautiful afternoon at Fraga da Pena (waterfall).
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
- 10 ounces chouriço, linguiça or Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch (6-mm) coins.
- 1 large Spanish onion, diced. I used 2 small ones.
- Kosher salt. I have no clue what this is so I used regular table salt.
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced; don’t be afraid to go for a third or fourth. The Portuguese love their garlic. I used 3.
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped. I used 12 small ones.
- 8 cups cold water, or half homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth, and half water. I used chicken broth as we are not vegetarians or vegans.
- 1 pound kale or collard greens, stems removed, leaves cut into very, very thin slices. I used greens straight from our garden.
- Freshly ground black or white pepper. I ran out of pepper so used cayenne pepper, we like it hot and spicy!
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chouriço and cook until lightly browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage to a plate. Try to let the sausage drain well into the pot; its fat will flavour the soup.
Dump the onions into the pot. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Stir in the potatoes, add the water or combination of water and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the soup gently simmers. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
When the Caldo Verde is cool enough to handle, puree it using a wand blender. (Tradition states that one slice and only one slice of chouriço is added to each bowl although some chefs like to add half the sausage to the soup before pureeing. It’s your choice.) Personally I love sausage so the more the merrier, one slice is not for me, bring on the sausage!
Add the kale to the soup, bring everything back to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper.
Ladle the Caldo Verde into bowls and garnish with the remaining slices of chouriço. (The soup can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated overnight, simply warm over low heat before serving.) This made a lot of soup so plenty for tonight’s dinner and leftovers for tomorrow. Apparently it tastes better the next day. We served it with fresh bread.
We shared the prep worked but I have him well trained (ha ha). He does what he is told 86% of the time which means I have to shout at him less often. I sectioned off 3 cloves of garlic and hubby threw them away with the potato peelings into the compost kitchen caddy. Luckily we had spare but there was a frantic hide and seek moment for the garlic. There is a lot of greens in this soup, to the point where I thought I might turn into a rabbit. It’s a shame Milo (bunny) is not joining us until August as he would love a nibble on these greens for sure.
We were both pleasantly surprised how great our soup tasted, maybe I should open a restaurant (ha ha). I didn’t have any corn bread with it as personally I find it disgusting. First time I tried corn bread was at an all you can eat buffet in Las Vegas (downtown). I don’t know what I was expecting but it was so bland. It was supposed to be used to soak up all the meat juices in the meal but I was left with this yellow spongy brick and I felt bad as I don’t like to leave and waste food and there were signs up saying don’t take what your not going to eat. I tried to bribe and pay hubby to eat it but unfortunately he was on to me and had already tried it and hates it too so he was having none of it. He also keeps reminding me that it’s not a deal for him if I pay him as my money is his money anyway so technically he is bribing himself – so true. I wish I had sat nearer to a plant pot so I could stash it discreetly under the enormous plastic fern. It wouldn’t fit in my handbag so I ended up eating about a third, then hid it under a serviette and went onto devour multiple desserts.
I ended up adding 5 slices of chouriço as 5 is my favourite number then I added an extra one for luck (ha ha). I think the greens should have been sliced finer and cooked for longer but it was 9pm and I was starving so couldn’t wait any longer. Overall a huge success.