Cold. Hot. Cold again… This is what the weather is like right now here in Texas.
On a cold day like today, what would be the perfect dish for dinner (or for lunch, too)? Soup, of course!
While growing up, in my family’s repertoire there were basically 3 soups: Bacon and Beans Soup (Sopa de Feijão), Chicken Soup (Canja de Galinha) , and Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup).
Hmmmm… What to make today? I did not have to give it a second thought. Caldo Verde!
You may be thinking: ‘Why a Portuguese soup if you are from Brazil?’
Although this soup is originally from Northern Portugal’s Minho region, it became a popular dish throughout all Portugal and Brazil, which was once a colony of Portugal, and for a while during the Napoleonic Wars, was even its imperial capital and the home of the royal family.
The color of the kale gave the soup its name. It is traditionally accompanied by broa, a cornbread leavened with yeast. In Brazil, broa is flavored with fennel.
Another reason to choose this soup today instead of the other two mentioned above, is because it warms not only my tummy, but also my heart, too. My memories of eating this dish back in Brazil are many… and wonderful!
This soup has been present for years and years at the table of my family, which is descended from Portuguese immigrants to Brazil. I was introduced to the dish in my early years, and it was love at first spoonful. I can say that Caldo Verde is a family tradition passed down from generation to generation– it has been served by me at my home for years, and was also served by my mother, my grandma, and likely by my great-grandparents, who came from Portugal. One soup, so many generations…
I do love to think that I am sharing something hearty with those whom I did not have the chance to meet, but are part of me, like my great-grandparents. Moreover, I like to think that it will be passed down from my children to their children, and so on…
Did you say something? Ok, ok. I won’t leave you waiting any longer. Enjoy!
Portuguese Green Soup (Caldo Verde)
Serves 4 – 6
Segment: Brazilian cuisine
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound (about 1/2 kg) high-quality choriço ou linguiça (smoked and spicy sausage), sliced 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick [ NB: If Portuguese linguiça is not available in your area, any smoked and spicy sausage will work, such as Kielbasa, Andouille, etc.]
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine *
8 cups water
1 pound (about 1/2 kg) Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 Tbsp chicken flavor bouillon powder *
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound (about 1/2 kg) kale, stems discarded and leaves finely shredded
A pinch dried oregano *
* These ingredients are my personal touch to the traditional recipe.
In a large heavy pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sliced sausage. Transfer only the sausage to a bowl and reserve. Leave any oil left over in the pan to sauté the onion and garlic.
Using the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil and add the onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until translucent (about 3 minutes). Then, add the garlic and sauté until slightly golden. Add the wine and let reduce a little bit (1 minute). Add the potatoes, water, the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Blend the soup well in a blender and return to the pan. Add the reserved sausage and the finely shredded kale. Let simmer until the kale is wilted (about 3 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
Serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with dried oregano. A crusty bread or preferably a Portuguese Corn Bread (Broa de Milho) and a rich white wine can be served as accompaniments.
Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated for up 2 days.
Enjoy and keep yourself warm!