Caldo verde is Portuguese for “green broth” and it is also the name of a popular soup in Portuguese cuisine.
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, especially to places where a large community of Portuguese immigrants have settled such as Brazil, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. References to the soup appear in several novels by Camilo Castelo Branco ( 1825-1890).
In Portugal, caldo verde is typically consumed during Portuguese celebrations, such as weddings, birthdays, and other popular celebrations such as the St. John festival, in Braga or Porto. It is sometimes consumed before a main course meal or as a late supper.
The dark green cabbage traditionally used in this Portuguese soup is not widely available beyond Portugal’s borders. Modern recipes have adapted for the soup to be made with tender kale, potatoes, and chouriço or linguiça sausages. But given your geographical location and the availability of fresh produce, collard greens can be substituted for the kale. Other basic ingredients also include olive, salt and garlic or onion may be added. In terms of serving, the soup is usually accompanied by a crusty Portuguese broa de milho for dipping and sopping up the delicious juices in your bowl.
Broa is a type of cornbread traditionally made in Portugal and Galicia. In Brazil, it is traditionally seasoned with fennel. Unlike the cornbread typical of the southern United States, broa is made from a mixture of cornmeal and wheat or rye flour, and is leavened with yeast rather than baking powder or baking soda. The name Broa comes from the Gothic word ‘brauth’ that means bread. This yeast bread has the rustic flavor and texture that suitably accompanies soups, especially caldo verde.
And one more thing, don’t forget the final flourish of olive oil. It will perfume the soup, making a perfectly delicious soup to serve on a cold winter’s day.
1/2 pound chorizo, linguiça or kielbasa sausages
3/4 pounds kale or collard greens
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 or 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 to 7 cups water or chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Prick the sausages with a fork and add to the boiling water. Boil for about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the sausages to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, slice them. Note: You may discard the sausage-flavored water or reserve it for making the soup.
Rinse and drain the greens, then remove any tough stems. Working in batches, stack the leaves, roll up the stack like a cigar, and cut crosswise into very, very thin strips. Set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the potatoes and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and salt, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.
Scoop out about 2 cups of the potatoes and mash well with a potato masher or fork. Return them to the pan, add the sliced sausages and simmer until the sausages are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Add the greens, stir well and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook; the greens should be bright green and slightly crunchy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving evenly with extra-virgin olive oil.
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