Nearly a year ago I posted a recipe and photos for a version of Caldo Verde, Portuguese Kale Soup, that came from our neighbors when I was a kid. You can read that post here.
I received a bunch of comments from readers of Portuguese descent – not to mention a phone call from a friend of ours – letting me know that the version I’d posted was only ONE way of making this much-loved national dish.
And one reader, Ana Rocha, provided (in the comments) a recipe that she said was a version very close to the original Caldo Verde. Here’s the comment, which includes the recipe:
“In some regions of Portugal, instead of the chouriço, "presunto" is used, cut in fine slices... "Verde" means green, because the "Caldo" (for soup we say "sopa", "caldo" is different because usually it's simpler, with less ingredients!) after it is done, acquires a beautiful strong green colour due to the portuguese kale!
Portuguese Kale Soup
by John Villa
Recipe adapted by Irene Sax
Serves 6 to 8
Considered by many to be Portugal’s national dish, caldo verde is found everywhere — in the dining rooms of Lisbon’s most luxurious hotels to the humblest of country homes. It’s a versatile dish: Serve it as a one-course meal at lunch or as a light supper in the evening. What’s crucial when preparing it is that the kale is cut into extremely fine slices; that’s what creates the soup’s distinctive character.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
10 ounces chouriço, diced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups cold water
1 pound kale or collard greens, cut into very fine julienne
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and half the chouriço and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover everything with the water, bring to a boil and lower the heat, simmering until the potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.
2. When the soup is cool enough to handle, purée it in the food processor and return to the pot. Add the greens, bring everything back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls, and garnish with the remaining cubes of chouriço.
Here you have a closer version of the original one! ;D”
I decided that at some point I would make Caldo Verde again, using this recipe.
And finally – 11 months later – I have done just that. As you already know, if you’ve been reading along lately, we’ve had a LOT of kale this year. It’s not Portuguese kale, I think it’s a Scottish kale, actually (which is appropriate here as I’m about a quarter Scot), but it is kale, so I figured I could use it here. Plus, we have so much of it, we needed to use it up!
So here we go.
First, the main ingredients.
And then, the chopping and slicing and so forth.
So, into the pot with the olive oil and the onion…
and then the garlic and half of the chouriço…
and then the potatoes and the water.
Now we bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost done. I am not entirely sure what “almost done” means; I cooked mine until I could stick a paring knife into one easily, but not so easily that the potato fell apart. That, to me, is almost done.
Anyway, the recipe says the simmering will take around fifteen minutes. This is a good time to finely slice your kale, if you haven’t already done that.
To prep the kale, rinse it really well (little bugs and spiders like to lurk on the undersides of the leaves), and remove the thick center stem of each leaf. Now, to slice thinly, I use the same method I’d use if I needed to chiffonade herbs for a compound butter or something.
Here’s what you do. Place a couple of the kale leaves (or leaf strips, after you’ve sliced them off the center stalk) flat on your cutting board. Beginning at one end of the little pile, roll the leaves very tightly all the way to the other end. Keep the kale as tight as possible – it’s easier to slice this way. Next, with a very sharp knife, start slicing straight down through the rolled-up kale leaves, from one end to the other. Be careful of your fingers. When you’re done, you should have a little pile of very thin strips of kale, like this:
Pretty, isn’t it?
Put this little pile in a bowl, and keep slicing your kale this way until you’re finished. It will take some time, but this thinly sliced kale is an important part of Caldo Verde.
Okay, I just checked the potatoes and they’re almost done. Time to puree.
Now, the recipe says to use your food processor and puree the soup in batches. Of you’re going to do this, let the soup cool a bit first. When it’s hot, it tends to increase the air pressure inside the processor (or blender) and this can cause the lid to shoot straight up at the ceiling. Or a portion of the lid. And trust me, that’s not something you want to deal with. So be careful, and be patient.
Now, I love my girly pink KitchenAid food processor. Love it. Love the attachments, love the powerful motor, love the pink.
But I don’t like cleaning it. I don’t like cleaning, period, so if I can simplify things in that area, I do.
Enter Mr. Immersion Blender:
THIS is what I use to puree soups. The soup stays in the pot, I plunk this baby in the soup, press a button, and let the little blades do their thing.
It’s a lot less clean-up. So if you’ve got an immersion blender, you could use that instead of the food processor.
Here’s a bit of my pureed soup base. Sorry about the blur – the soup was still rather steamy.
To that I added the thinly sliced kale, brought it all to a boil, simmered for two minutes, and seasoned the soup with salt and pepper.
And then I ladled my Caldo Verde into bowls for Bill and the kids (and me), garnishing the soup with the remaining chouriço.
And we ate.
How did everyone like it?
Alex and Julia kind of liked it. They mostly liked the chouriço. And they liked dunking slices of Broa in the soup and eating that, which is fair enough.
Bill and I really enjoyed it. I froze what was left, and we’ll have another night of Caldo Verde at some point this winter.
Thanks so much, Ana Rocha, for passing along the recipe!