Caldo Verde ( Portuguese Green Soup)

My father grew up in Lowell Massachusetts which meant for a long while we would make trips down in the summer to visit my Gram and his siblings. When I was 14 years old my sister and I made the trip down to visit him and I remember going to a Portuguese bakery he was in love with. It was within walking distance of where he lived and they made beautiful desserts and amazing bread. Beside my summer trips to Mass. I had not been exposed to a lot of Portuguese culture or cooking. Recently I was watching No Reservations, if you aren’t familiar with this show but love travel and food then you should make yourself familiar. In this particular episode he was visiting the Azores which strongly connected with Fall River, MA. The Azores has a food culture that stems from Portugal however it seems to be more rustic but just as fresh and beautiful. I had not realized when I was young the strong Portuguese influence in Massachusetts but after seeing this soup I thought I was time to try it out. This soup is vegan and serve 4 hearty portions. It is a comfort food which would be great in the fall or winter and served with crusty bread. It’s vegan and because it’s main ingredient is kale you could literally live off this stuff. Traditionally it is made with sausage so I wanted to simulate it but I think it would be equally good with white kidney beans instead. I sourced a recipe on The Well Seasoned Skillet blog which kind of reminded me of a chili recipe. I made a lot of changes but my version of the recipe is below:

Caldo Verde

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk of celery washed and diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño seeded and minced
  • 2 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced
  • 2 veggie sausages (I used the Yves Spicy Italian but I prefer the Tofurky or homemade version ) diced or 1 can white kidney beans washed
  • 6 cloves of garlic peeled and minced fine
  • 1 container (900ml) of good quality veggie broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1/4-3/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1+ 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale washed, stemmed and julienned

Method

Prepare all the vegetables and set aside.

 

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and jalapeño and sauteed for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften. Add veggie sausage, tarragon, paprika and red chili flakes and fry for about 3-5 minutes. The bottom of the pan should become brown and the sausage should start to brown as well.

Add stock, water, potatoes, garlic, bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Turn heat up to a boil and cook potatoes for about 1-2 minutes. Since I diced the potatoes quite fine it didn’t take long to cook. While the soup boiled I prepared the kale. Kale looks like this (see below)so the first step is pruning the main leaves from the long stems. Then you must wash the leaves throughly.

 

To stem the leaves you want to lie them as flat as you can and make a cut on each side of the vein and remove it with your fingers.

To julienne, flatten the kale by folding it in two or stacking leaves on each other to then roll into a log. With a sharp knife cut ribbons of kale. This creates a really nice texture for the soup and makes the kale cook very quickly but you can just free form cut it as long as it’s stemmed before hand.

Once potatoes are cooked, add kale and stir. It will only take 1-2 minutes for the kale to cook through. Season with more salt and pepper and serve hot with crusty bread and butter.