It’s no secret how in love with kale we’ve been the last few years. It’s been on menus in restaurants everywhere, though I remember a time when the only way kale showed up in restaurants was as garnish on your plate with your baked potato and steak! Our kale love affair is not surprising given this cruciferous superfood is so good for us-it’s loaded with vitamins K, A, C, and contains other important nutrients.
I was watching a PBS show the other day and saw a segment from a restaurant in East Tennessee where the chef was making Portuguese Kale Soup and that really got my attention. I didn’t think I cared for kale that much and because I could eat my weight in brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and any of the other kale cousins, I was okay that I was not as crazy about this leafy love as much as the rest of the world! It was always too chewy and firm for me. Well, apparently, I was not buying the right kind of kale or preparing it in an appealing way. Back to Portuguese Kale Soup. The chef on the show started with chourico-a Portuguese sausage and added potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. I watched the segment for a while and made some mental notes. I then looked around the web and saw that this soup called “caldo verde” (Portuguese for green broth) is pretty popular, not only in Portugal and but here too, though I had never heard of it. With all the different recipes out there for caldo verde, I decided to add my name to the masses and put together what sounded good to me.
The foundation of the soup is the potatoes, onions and kale and instead of chourico, some recipes call for another type of Portuguese smoked sausage, linguica. They’re basically the same sausage with spices, garlic, and paprika, but chourico is spicy. I found linguica at my grocer and given Charlie’s aversion to nose-sweating hot food and not knowing if chourico fell into that category, my question was answered as to which sausage to use. On to potatoes-some folks chop the potatoes, but the chef on the show used a mandolin slicer so that the potatoes were nice and thin and released good starchiness to help thicken the pot. I liked the sound of that. I found red kale at my grocery store that was tender and the stems were not too big, though I was going to removed them anyway.
I also read that some cooks use collard greens instead of kale and I bet that tastes great too! Well, then the question of beans or no beans–some folks put kidney or white beans in the pot and a few even added canned tomatoes and carrots. Then it was chicken broth versus water. Too many options. For me, I wanted simplicity and good kale flavor. Too many things in the pot could over run that fresh, green taste. So, this is what I came up with and I LOVED the results of my experiment and so did Charlie–he and I both had seconds 🙂 The Kelley canines and one cat sure were drawn to it too! If this soup is any indication of the good food in Portugal, I’d say a Lisbon photo shoot for the next cookbook is in order.
- 1 pound linguica sausage, sliced and halved (may decrease amount to 1/2 pound if desired)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped white onion
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 bunch kale (I used red), thick stem removed and leaves sliced into thin ribbons
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Heat up a large stock/soup pot. Over medium heat, saute sausage pieces per the package's directions until browned and done. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add olive oil to the pan, heat up and saute onions until they are just tender. Drop in garlic and potato slices. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in 6 cups of hot water and the cup of chicken broth. Add in kale and bring pan to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Mash about half of the potato slices with a fork on the side of the pan and stir in sausage. Lower heat and allow sausage to heat up. Add more salt to taste if needed, depending on sausage.
- Serve each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on the top, freshly ground black pepper and crusty hot bread or corn bread.
- This my version of Portugal's much-loved soup. There are many recipes out there for this filling and warming dish. Some cooks call for pureeing the potatoes, onions, and garlic before adding the kale. I mashed some of the potatoes in the pot and let it thicken up that way. I loved the flavor and consistency. Do what you like and experiment!!