Saturday, June 11, 2011

Caldo Verde...or..... Green Soup

Portuguese Caldo Verde....yummmm ...  it means Green Soup...which it is.  Basic ingredients are potatoes, onion and kale ....the kale makes it green.  Wiki says """ In Portugal, caldo verde is typically consumed during Portuguese celebrations, such as weddings. It is sometimes consumed before a main course meal and as well for a late supper.  Caldo verde originated from the Minho Province in northern Portugal. Today, it is a traditional national favorite that has spread across the nation and abroad.""

I think my friend Maria (who is Portuguese) was surprised that we liked it...same as she got surprised by our liking for Migas.  In reality...I guess we are just simple folk that enjoy simple good food.  Don't get me wrong.. if, on occasion, we find some exotic thing that is prepared wonderfully... we may give that a chance as well...but, mostly, just great tasting simple fare is our choice.

I found a simple recipe for kale and potato soup in my Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking.. so that is the one I am printing here.  It is the basic idea and from there, just like every cook in Portugal... you can tweak things any way you like to make it your own.   And, don't forget to try some Broa ..or Portuguese cornbread too, for dipping as they do in Portugal.  Make it a complete Portuguese supper night.... you won't be sorry.....

Caldo Verde (or kale and potato soup)

4 medium potatoes
2  TBSP vegetable oil (always Olive Oil in Portugal!)
8 cups water
1  tsp. salt
1/2  tsp. pepper
2  pounds fresh kale
1/2  pound cooked, sliced smoked garlic sausage (optional)

Peel and chop potatoes; combine with oil and water.  Cook 20 to 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Remove potatoes; reserve liquid.  Mash potatoes trough sieve; return to potato liquid.  Add salt and pepper; simmer 20 minutes.
Wash kale; discard all tough leaves; cut into thin shreds.  Add to potatoes; cook 25 minutes.  Add sausage; simmer gently 5 minutes.
Yield 6 to 8 servings.

::::: MY Version:::  I kick it up a notch or two (as silly old Emeril says) ....  Now that I've made this soup a few times...  I like to add a few extra ingredients to develop a more full bodied flavour.

I saute onion, a stick of celery and this day I even added a chunk of orange pepper, in olive oil with a dollop of salted butter.  Soup is always a good way to tidy up my fridge.  Oh, ...  and I see a sprig of Rosemary in there too... then, sprinkle on a tablespoon of flour after about a minute or so and continue cooking a bit more ... then I lower the heat and toss in a crushed clove of garlic.  Let cook (carefully) a minute longer.  Be sure not to overheat and burn your garlic!
Pour in a few cups of chicken broth and some water and I add another TBSP olive oil.  If I'm using store bought broth, I like to use the low sodium.
Meanwhile, ready the potatoes.  When diced, pop them right into the pot with the other ingredients.  I don't bother to cook them separately.  No need to use a separate pot or to mash til later as far as I can see.
Sprinkle in some herbs of choice...including oregano.... I wish I could get fresh Portuguese oregano like Maria used to use on our salads!  MMM...... ... Oh, well...just use dried or whatever you can get.  I also like to toss in a bay leaf and a sprinkle of dried basil.. and this is when I use a good scraping of freshly ground black pepper.  Use salt if you like...I never do, but that's just me.
Wash and cut kale... I just use about 4 or 5 leaves... 2 pounds seems a huge amount to me.  Add kale. I bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for an hour or so with lid on.  The potatoes should be tender by then and I like to cook the kale so that I can use my stick blender to puree the whole thing.  The first few times I made it...I just didn't really like the stringy shreds of kale in the soup. is a lot of work to cut it into strips and then chop it all the other way as well to get it small enough. (.. which in Portugal is no problem because there you can buy chopped kale! ..or..they have special kale cutters that I see on some videos of kale soup making!)  Haven't found any chopped kale here.  So..instead...I just cut it into thin strips.. cook well...and then... stick blender works wonders.  I like to leave a few chunks of potatoes in it... so I just plop the blender around here and there and most of the kale disappears.  We like a few chunks of potatoes left in our soup....  little surprises to be found.  We're just kids at heart I guess.

If I am using sausage... I use local spicy Italian... easier to find than Portuguese chorizo .... and I brown it while the soup is simmering.  Slice it into rounds and add it after I puree the soup.  Let simmer for about another 15 minutes or so.  Serve with fresh Portuguese Broa..or cornbread.  MMMMMMMM  ...oh, it is making me drool.  We love it...and if you like simple but great tasting foods... I'm sure you will as well.  Hope you try it some day.