Caldo Verde

Yay! Kale is here!

I’ve been awaiting the arrival of a big bunch of kale in our CSA box, just so I can make this soup. I first had caldo verde in Lisbon (‘ooo look at the world traveller…how globe-trotty are we’), where it was literally on the menu of every restaurant we went to. Finally, the last night at dinner, I wanted to see what the big deal was and ordered a bowl of caldo verde along with bacalhau, another Portuguese standard. Ever since then, this soup has been one of my favorites to make at home.

Caldo verde is really a very simple soup, where the creaminess comes from pureed potatoes. Actually, I find that I always prefer a potato-derived (or bread-derived) creaminess in soup rather than a cream-derived one. It may sound moronic to use something other than cream to achieve ‘creaminess’, but I like drinking a lot of soup and honestly, I’m not too fond of the idea of drinking a lot of cream. So I’m all for faux ‘creaminess’.

If you want to go vegetarian, you can of course omit the chorizo and compensate by adding more salt to season the soup. The final drizzle of olive oil when serving, however, is essential.

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 link of chorizo (preferably the harder/cured Spanish kind, but the uncooked ones from Latin America should work too) – sliced
1 large yellow onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – chopped
3 potatoes – peeled and sliced or cubed
6 cups of water
1 bunch of kale – washed well
olive oil – for garnish

In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the chorizo in olive oil briefly until it gives up some of its fat. (If you’re using the uncooked chorizo, you’ll need to cook it for longer here.) Remove about three quarters of the chorizo and set aside.

Add onions to the pot with the chorizo and saute for about 8-10 min until onions are tender. Add garlic and potatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Add water with 2 tsp of salt and cover. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 min.

Meanwhile, remove the stems from the kale leaves. Then roll up the leaves and slice into strips. Set aside.

Once potatoes are soft, use an immersion blender to puree the soup (careful!). Return to low heat, add the reserved sausage and cook for another 5 min, with stirring.

Add the kale and stir well. Simmer for another 5 min until the kale leaves are wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle out in bowls and drizzle olive oil. Serve with crusty bread.

(Makes a lot of soup, about 6 servings.)