May 09, 2011

Caldo Verde

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we're used to equating Spring with rain. We're not so used to it being so ridiculously cold, however. So, maybe soup is just the thing, to warm us up and tide us over until the nicer weather finally arrives.

Caldo Verde is the quintessential Portuguese soup, and considered by some to be the national dish of Portugal. Potatoes, onions and kale provide a hearty base, and often a touch of pork (in the form of sausage, sliced on the side or diced in the soup pot) to add a little extra something on those days when the soup is the whole of the meal. Add a nice chunk of bread (or, in these parts, a grilled cheese sandwich), and you've got a peasant meal that's fit for a king.

There's a lot of versions and variations, of course, from the fundamental to the fancy-pants. In its simplest form, it's often served as a starter course, both in restaurants and in fancier celebratory meals. It freezes well, although the greens lose their emerald brightness. The flavour is still delicious, though, and you can always add a little more greenery to perk it up again if you like.

Caldo Verde

You can make this creamy-textured, dairy-free soup in advance, right up to just before adding the kale. Simply prepare the kale and hold it in a sealed plastic container in the fridge until you are ready to finish and serve the soup.

Serves: 2 - 4
Total Prep and Cooking time: 60 minutes

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large potatoes*, peeled and sliced
100 - 200 grams linguica or chouriço, sliced into half-coins
4 cups cold water
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
100 - 150 grams kale, cleaned, stem removed, sliced into chiffonade
Dry sherry, to garnish

In a medium soup-pot, over medium heat, cook sausage slices until the oil is released, but do not allow to dry out). Remove sausage to a plate and reserve. Drain most of the fat from the pot, and the olive oil (obviously, start here for the vegetarian/vegan version). Over medium heat, cook onion and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes more. Pour in water, add the salt, bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until potatoes are very soft.

Mash the potatoes in the pot or puree the potato mixture with an immersion blender. Stir the reserved sausage and the pepper into the soup and return to medium heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes on a medium-low heat. Taste and add more salt if needed. Stir in the kale and gently simmer 5 to 10 minutes more, just until kale is tender. Serve with bread, garnishing individual bowls with a sprinkle of sherry.

A very popular way of finishing this soup is to drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the soup in its last few minutes of cooking (or with the kale). I haven't tried that myself, yet, but I think the next time I make this soup I definitely will give it a try.

*Yukon gold potatoes work very well, as they puree to a very smooth and creamy consistency with an immersion blender.

1 comment:

Nanette said...

This looks so good. Will try it. Lovely photo. I will share this with a new member of the family who's from Brazil and loves Portuguese cooking. Thanks.N