Portuguese Kale soup – Caldo Verde
I came across a recipe for Caldo Verde in Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse: Vegetables cookbook. When I saw that it had two of my favorite things, kale and chorizo, I new I’d have to try it out. After doing a bit of research, and some tasty testing, I’ve settled on this easy and delicious version of Caldo Verde that highlights our locally grown Lacinato kale.
In Portugal, this soup can be found in fancy restaurants and pension houses alike. Served with a Portuguese version of cornbread, it combines locally grown and easily found ingredients to make a healthy Portuguese staple.
Our Full Circle-grown Lacinato kale makes the perfect version of Caldo Verde. Tender, flavorful and sweet it mixes well with the spicy sausage and potatoes. I found that by spending a little more time letting the onions and garlic caramelize, the soup takes on a deeper, more robust flavor.
To give the soup its distinctive character, and color, create a fine chiffonade of kale by stacking the leaves and rolling them into a long tube. Then using a very sharp knife, slice them into thin strips. You can easily pull out the larger chunks of stem if you’d like, though they’ll soften as well. To preserve their flavor and color, the kale is added at the end of the soup, only minutes prior to serving.
The potatoes can be chopped, sliced or roughly cubed, but the cooking time will vary depending on your method. I found that a larger dice was more appealing with the slices of the sausage. Although I left the soup intact, preferring a clean stock and separate ingredients, you can use an immersion blender to puree a portion of the soup, giving it a thicker consistency and more weight on the palate. You can even puree the entire soup, without the sausages, passing it through a chinois, or other fine mesh strainer for a silky consistency and garnish with bias sliced sausage and a blanched chiffonade of kale.
- 2 Tbsps oil
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 cooked chorizo or andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch slices (leave this out for a vegetarian version)
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 4 cups red potatoes, or other small flavorful potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 bunches Lacinato kale, cut into very fine julienne
- Salt and pepper
- In a large 5 quart Dutch oven, or other heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, but doesn't smoke, add onion and saute, stirring often until soft and beginning to brown and caramelize. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, or until acutely aromatic.
- Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and when boiling again, reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are just tender, but slightly crisp. Toss in sausage and continue, about 2 minutes. Stir in kale and cook until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.