A few weeks ago, a reader suggested I try my hand at Caldo Verde (“green broth”), a traditional Portuguese soup that is often considered their national dish. It was the perfect recommendation – the soup’s use of simple, satisfying ingredients, plus the addition of slightly-spicy sausage, make it an ideal late spring / early summer meal.
Initially, the soup’s use of kale might seem out of place for a country that is geographically closer to Africa than the rest of Europe. But when you take into context the fact that the soup originates from Portugal’s northern Minho region, which was once under Roman and Celtic occupation and still retains some of that influence today, the culinary presence of a hearty cabbage like collard greens (or kale like in this recipe) makes sense. One of my favorite aspects of this dish is that it’s a perfect pauper’s meal: combine some very basic and always-available ingredients (water, onion, potatoes, cabbage) and add other items if and when they are available (broth, sausage).
16oz chorizo or linguica sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, blended
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb kale or collard greens, shredded, stems removed
4 cups each chicken broth and water
salt and pepper to taste
Warm a stock pot or dutch oven on med/low heat, then add the sliced sausage. Brown on both sides, in batches if needed, adding a little olive oil if the sausage sticks to the pot. Once it is browned, set it aside.
Add the blended onion to the pot, and sauté until aromatic, about five minutes. Be sure to gently scrape up the bottom so the browned bits of sausage mix with the onions.
Once the onions are aromatic, add the potatoes, broth, and water. Raise the heat to medium and boil the potatoes until they are soft, about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft, blend them with an immersion blender, or mash with a potato masher.
Also, while the potatoes boil, cut up your kale and set it aside.
To finish the soup, add the shredded kale and simmer for one minute, then taste it, adding salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each). Pour the soup into bowls and serve with the sausage. Some people like to drizzle olive oil into the soup, and I think that’s just fine.