Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Broth Soup)

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The tiny country of Portugal is often overlooked in Mediterranean cookbooks, but its cuisine is a treasure trove for culinary world travelers.  Often simple peasant fare, Portuguese cuisine is distinguished by fish, breads, excellent sausages and especially soups.

The most famous Portuguese soup, and one that is ubiquitous throughout the country, is Caldo Verde.  Caldo Verde is a simple and tasty soup full of potatoes, sausage and kale.  The name means green broth, the distinctive color that the kale adds to the soup.

Caldo Verde from Ana Patuleia Ortins’ book Portuguese Homestyle Cooking

Ingredients:

6 cups water

5 medium Maine or Yukon Gold or other starchy potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 5 cups)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)

1 tablespoon coarse salt or to taste

1 bunch (1 ½ pounds before trimming) flat-leaf cale or collard greens

5 tablespoons olive oil

¼ chouriço or linguiça, sliced very thin (scant ¼ inch thick) (Portuguese chouriço is difficult to find in some places in the United States, especially the intermountain west, however, I’ve had success by substituting pepperoni or salami.)

1.  In a 4-quart stockpot, combine the water, potatoes, and onion.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, season with salt, then simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, trim the kale leaves of the thick central stem at the back of the leaf.  Rinse the leaves well in a sink full of cool water.  Lift out to drain.  Be sure that the strands of kale are no greater than a couple of inches in length.  Continue cutting until you have about 6 cups.  Set aside.

3.  When the potatoes are cooked, puree the contest of the soup pot to a smooth consistency.  Return to a boil.

4.  Add the reserved greens and the olive oil.  Simmer until the greens are bright green and tender, but not mushy, approximately 5 minutes.

5.  In a skillet, brown the sausage slices, turning to color both sides and reserve.

6. Serve the soup in a traditional manner with one slice of the sausage added to each bowl.  Any extra sausage is served on the side.

Tip: Most Portuguese soups thicken as they cool because of the starch they contain.  Once they are reheated, the broth loosens up.  It’s okay, though, to add a small amount of water, if necessary, to help it along.

Note: Adjust the amount of kale or collard greens and potatoes to your preference.

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