The true stars of this dish, Caldo Verde, are the potatoes, onions and greens. A simple “green soup” that is one of Portugal’s best-known and best-loved dishes is an onion and garlic-infused soup, the combination of which is a magical complement of both heartiness and lightness, enhanced with the flavors of thinly sliced greens, usually collards or kale, and coins of spicy linguiça. As Dayton was recently preparing this dish he told me that it was a favorite of his, a hearty and satisfying soup served often by his mom when they lived on the ranch. Easy to prepare, the basic ingredients include potatoes, onions, collard greens or kale, garlic, salt and extra virgin olive oil, accompanied by the thinly sliced rounds of linguiça.
Caldo Verde has peasant roots and originated in the Minho Province of northern Portugal. Today it is a national favorite that has spread across the country and abroad. It is served with pride in hotels, restaurants and homes throughout the country. A testament to the popularity of this national dish is the fact that produce vendors have specially designed machines to quickly cut the freshly picked leaves into fine chiffonade for Caldo Verde. This lovely soup is traditionally consumed during Portuguese celebrations, such as weddings, and is often served as a separate course before a main meal. Because it so so well-loved it frequently appears on late-night supper menus in virtually every restaurant in Portugal.
The soup is traditionally prepared without the initial inclusion of the greens, which are steamed, and the sausage. They are added at the time of service and then mixed together with the broth while one is dining. The reason the greens are not cooked with the soup is that the later addition prevents them from becoming soft and mushy during the cooking of the dish.
Also, it is extremely important that a fine tasting, good quality olive oil be used in this dish… its flavor is essential to the depth and richness of Caldo Verde.
With a sharp knife remove the stems from:
- 2 bunches collard greens
Stack the leaves together and roll into a cigar shape. Chiffonade thinly:
Steam the greens for 15 minutes then cool quickly under running cold water, drain well and set to the side:
To a large saucepan or medium stockpot over moderately high heat add:
- 2-1/2 quarts water
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
- 1 medium to large white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 whole peeled garlic cloves, smashed
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a vigorous simmer, cooking the vegetables until they are soft, the potatoes soft and falling apart, approximately 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking place a large 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat and add:
- 2 links linguiça (13-oz package), we recommend the spicy links
- 1/4 C water
When the water has steamed away and the linguiça have rendered their fat, are cooked and beginning to brown, transfer them to a cutting board and cut into coins. Set to the side:
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is completely smooth:
While blending, add to emulsify and incorporate:
- 8 T fine quality extra virgin olive oil
Chef’s Note: If an immersion blender is not available process the soup in batches in a blender, dividing the olive oil between the batches. Return the soup to a saucepan to reheat or keep warm until service.
Season to taste with:
- salt and white pepper
Chef’s Note: The potatoes will undoubtedly require a generous amount of salt since they were initially cooked, along with the garlic and onions, in unsalted water.
Ladle the hot soup into heated soup bowls, top generously with the chiffonade of greens. Garnish with coins of linguiça. This hearty but light soup is not only tasty but wonderfully satisfying. Serve it up with copious amounts of sourdough batard and a chilled glass of crisp white wine… Bon Appetit!
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