Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale, Chorizo & Potato Soup)

It’s Soup Season here in the wintry Cape, which of course means it’s once again time for Caldo Verde! Though not really a soup-person per se, this Portuguese classic nevertheless remains a perennial winter favourite of mine.

Made with just a few key ingredients, Caldo Verde nevertheless makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal. Indeed, hearty and nutritious this humble dish is everything a rustic soup needs to be, making it the perfect antidote to winter’s chilly bite; and, when the mood takes me, I can eat bowls of the stuff for many a dark day on end.

Literally meaning “Green Soup”, Caldo Verde is very much about the kale.

Though wondrously healthy, kale isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the soup’s other flavours definitely do help mitigate these contentious greens, making Caldo Verde a great way to add some kale to your diet. The key is to cut the leaves into thin strips before shredding them as finely as possible. It is important to take your time doing so, lest you want to end up with a tangle of kale, and not the spoonable soup you should be aiming for.

Admittedly, I do have a bit of a phobia of thin watery soups, and on paper Caldo Verde should be exactly that. But thickened with potato, and blitzed with a blender, nothing could be further from the truth. Caldo Verde actually has a surprisingly comforting viscosity and weight to it. To further enrich the soup, I also like to add a couple of strips of pork fat into the mix before blending. Of course this is entirely optional, but it gives the soup a satisfying mouthfeel it could otherwise lack.

Using a good quality chorizo is also a must, as most of the soup’s flavour comes from the spices rendered from the sausage. To that end it is essential to use cooking/soft chorizo as the smoked version will not yield as much flavour when sautéd. Along with the addition of the pork fat, I also like to blend half the chorizo along with the potatoes. Some recipes frown upon doing so, but I prefer the additional flavour it adds to the dish.

For more soup recipes from the Muddled Pantry, please click here.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale, Chorizo & Potato Soup)

Serves: 6

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g chorizo (cooking/soft variety), sliced
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 strips of skinless pork fat (optional), cut into small chunks
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium sized pieces
  • 2 litres warm water
  • Large bunch of kale (approx. 400g)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Pour the olive oil into a cold pot, add the sliced chorizo
  2. Place on a medium heat and sauté the chorizo for about 5 minutes, or until the oil takes on the sausage’s spices. Don’t let the chorizo get too crispy.
  3. Remove the meat, leaving the oil in the pot. Keep the chorizo aside for later
  4. Add the chopped onion and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and pork fat (if using). Continue to sauté for a couple of minutes
  5. Add the prepared potatoes, coating them in the spiced oil
  6. Season with just a little bit of salt
  7. Pour in the warm water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  8. Whilst the soup is simmering, wash and prepare the kale.
  9. Remove the hard stalks and central vein. Cut each side of the leaf into strips of 3 cm , stack them on top of each other, then shred them very finely with a sharp knife
  10. Once the potatoes are tender, add half the cooked chorizo (you can also take some potato out if you prefer a chunkier soup), then blitz with a blender until mostly smooth
  11. Add the shredded kale and reserved chorizo slices (also return the potatoes, if any)
  12. Taste for seasoning (depending on your chorizo, it will already be fairly seasoned)

Serve with: chunks of toasted bread

Note: Caldo Verde keeps well in the fridge – just rewarm gently.

For more soup recipes from the Muddled Pantry, please click here.

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