Recipe: Portuguese Green Soup (Caldo Verde)

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Around the World in 30 Soups: This month Kitchn is collaborating with chefs and cookbook authors to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Portugal.

David Leite, author of a marvelous book about the Portuguese food of his family, shares the official unofficial soup of Portugal — complete with its essential slice (or two, or three) of sausage.

Caldo verde is the official unofficial soup of Portugal. It’s slurped through every region as well as in the Azores island. It’s a comforting, warming dish that reflects Portugal’s historical character: simple, honest, and connected to the earth. And it has been the cause of plenty of fisticuffs over the years, at least in my neck of the woods. Growing up, every Portuguese kid I knew defended his mother’s caldo verde, insisting it was the best, lest blood be drawn.

Traditionally the soup, from the Minho region, is made with just water, and the onion and potato are dropped in raw to cook as the broth simmers. Adding chicken stock and sautéing the vegetables along with garlic gives the soup more layers of flavor. Also, rather than drizzling olive oil on top, I use the pan drippings from the chouriço to lend smokiness and a bit of color.

When making this, cut the kale as thin as possible — whisker-thin, if you can manage it. It’s what gives the soup its distinctive classic look. Custom dictates the soup be served with one — and just one — slice of sausage. Big deal. I’d rather fight than stint on the tasty chouriço.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Caldo Verde (Green Soup)

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1

    large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 pound

    Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 2

    garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 cups

    chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth

  • 1 bunch

    collard greens or kale (about 1 pound), thick center stems and fibrous veins removed

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar (optional)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

  • 18 or 24

    1/4-inch-thick slices of chouriço, linguiça, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Dump in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, about 10 minutes. Drop in the potatoes and cook, stirring often, until they start to spot with color, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

  2. Pour in the chicken stock and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are falling-apart tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, stack several collard leaves, roll them lengthwise into a tight cigar shape, and cut crosswise into whisker-thin slices. Repeat with the rest of the greens. If the strands are so long they’re unwieldy, cut them in half to avoid having wisps of collards dangling from your lips while eating.

  4. Purée the soup using a handheld blender, or liquefy in batches in a food processor. Return it to the pot, and bring it back to a boil. Turn the heat to low, stir in the greens, and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Swirl in the vinegar, if using. Season well with salt and pepper.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the chouriço and cook until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Let the chouriço oil cool a bit.

  6. To serve, ladle the soup into warm bowls, crown each with 3 slices of chouriço, and drizzle some of the flavored oil from the skillet over the top.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Caldo verde has tendency to thicken after being refrigerated, so add a bit of stock or water to leftover soup when reheating.

Reprinted from The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast. Copyright © 2009 by David Leite. Photographs copyright © 2009 by Nuno Correia. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Clarkson Potter Publishers)

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