Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
Ever wonder what the national soup of Portugal is? Me neither. But since we’re on the subject, the national soup of Portugal is Caldo Verde. You’re welcome for any future trivia victories.
This soup is part of the continuing effort to use the kale that keeps showing up in the Box of Wonders. Not every week, but many weeks. It’s not that it can’t get worked into various recipes, it’s just that I get so much of it, and a little of it goes so far, and well, we are looking for full-on, kale-based meals.
And really, I am measuring success in the whole CSA venture by how many actual meals I can get out of a box and how close I can come to living on the contents of the box. So we’re trying to stay away from random side dishes and confections that don’t really contribute to getting me through the week standing up. This game, by the way, has definitely health-ified my diet, which didn’t suck in the first place. It’s just that when you are really trying to use everything before the next Box of Wonders shows up, but you also want to order a pizza, you have a short internal debate that goes like this:
“Ooh, I want to order a pizza. With sausage and mushroom and onion.”
“Yes a pizza would be lovely, but then who’s gonna eat all this kale?”
“Touché. Kale it is.”
This only takes you so far, of course. As my Trusty Roommate Chad points out, you are eventually just going to lose it and get five pizzas and a large order of breadsticks one fateful night (this may have actually happened). And to balance things out, you’ll sprinkle a little kale on one of the pizzas (that didn’t happen).
The week I tried this soup, I got a slightly terrifying, somewhat prehistoric-looking type of flat-leafed kale.
That’s okay though, because this recipe calls for the kale to be sliced “whisker thin” as one chef put it, and the flat leaves actually made that easier. The best way to do that, by the way, is to roll it up tightly first, then slice it.
The above picture is deceptively organized-looking. Things got a little out of hand; kale was flying in all directions. Why yes, that IS kale on the wall.
Anyway, my Pal Crystal and I got to watch college hockey outside at Fenway Park this weekend. It was awesome, despite the torrential downpour.
I was happy, cold, wet and tired when I got home. This situation called for soup. Specifically, the last of the caldo verde I had in the freezer.
So, what is this caldo verde you’re hearing so much about. Other than the national soup of Portugal. Caldo Verde is a Portuguese sausage and kale soup. Right about now, you may be thinking, “Jackie, wake up, you already made sausage and kale soup.” True. But this soup and the first one with those two ingredients couldn’t be more different. Chorizo and pasta make whole different taste than italian sausage and potato. And even within the caldo verde designation I found quite a bit of variation. Some include beans, some mashed the potatoes, some had garlic, some threw it all in a blender. Here is what I decided to do, and here are two of the recipes I looked at that resemble what I did.
I liked the ditalini suggestion in the first one, but any small pasta obviously works. Both of these use chorizo, but I went with linguica (pronounced ling-WEE-sah) because I had never tried it before and I saw it as an option in several recipes. And it’s Portuguese, so it was consistent with the theme. I went with the small red kidney beans because the big ones are kind of a lot. The little ones are great for soup.
This soup was hearty, no other word for it. Linguica sausage, it turns out, is more smoky than spicy. The combination of the potatoes and the pasta thickened the broth, but that was fine by me. Mine didn’t come out as green as a lot of the ones I’ve seen, but it tasted good so I’m putting one in the win column. This pic, by the way, is of the soup after being reheated twice, frozen, and reheated again. I kept eating it before thinking to take a picture of it. So it had definitely thickened into a chowder-esque thing that was still delicious, but didn’t really resemble the brothy soup it started out as!
The soup was not in fact bright yellow. The light in the kitchen where I was sitting down to eat the soup, however, is in fact yellow. I swear this tasted really good. Anyway, if you want to try it, here is what I did.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 package linguica sausage, diced
1 yellow onion, diced large
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, cubed
1 can small red kidney beans
1 bunch kale, cut into very thin strips
1.5 cups ditalini
At least two quarts of chicken broth.
Salt and pepper
Sauté the linguica until it is just cooked and set it aside. This sausage was so lean there was no need to drain it.
Gently cook the onions in the olive oil with salt and pepper until they are translucent and then add the garlic for a minute or so until it smells good.
Add the potatoes, beans, and broth, bring it to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes or so. Add more pepper, and if you want to throw in some red pepper flakes (if you’re me, for instance), do that now.
Add the pasta and kale and let it cook for another 8-10 minutes, until the pasta and potatoes are done.