October 7, 2011

Super Faminto: Caldo Verde: Portuguese Kale Soup

by Bryan Sanders

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Over the last year, I have been desperately trying to get my hands on the Ghosts of the Great Highway LP by Sun Kil Moon aka Mark Kozelek from Red House Painters. If not familiar with any of his bands or side projects, most remember him as Stillwater’s bassist Larry Fellows in the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous. He’s the one who starts the group sing along to the song Tiny Dancer on the tour bus. The album Ghosts is all things awesome starting with the first song named after the young undefeated Mexican boxer Salvador Sanchez. The song refers to many little known heroes who tragically died too young, like Sanchez.

Forgive the nerd out.

While searching out any re-releases of the album, I found that his private record label is called Caldo Verde which is a kale based soup my wife CH makes.

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Caldo Verde is a Portuguese recipe that uses couve (aka kale, above), potatoes, onions, and often linguiça sausage. It is perfect as a starter or a late night meal. Really, it’s soul food. CH makes it when I’m feeling sick or if it’s cold out, and it always hits the spot (or as my mom would say, “Sticks to your ribs”). It is a perfect name for a record label.

Some people say that Caldo Verde is the quintessential Portuguese soup, created in the 1600s when the Iberians “discovered” the New World, and brought the potato over to Europe, from the Incans. The Portuguese combined this new vegetable with kale, garlic, and onions from their gardens with a final touch of extra virgin olive oil.

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INGREDIENTS

1 kilo of potatoes (3 big ones)
200 grams of kale leaves (approx. 2 big kale leaves)
1 onion
6 garlic cloves
1 linguiça paio (smoked sausage)
Salt
Couple bay leaves
Olive oil

METHOD

1. Peel and cut your potatoes into little chunks and put them in a pressure cooker (if you have one. If not, stovetop is fine). Add enough water to cover them for 15 minutes.

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2. Chop your onion and garlic cloves.

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3. Skin and cut your linguiça into bite-sized bits, like a silver dollar cut into quarters.

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4. Cut your kale into thin narrow slices about a 1/4 of an inch thick by 6 inches long (so not too long).

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5. Add olive oil to your pan and add the chopped garlic and onions.

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6. Once the garlic and onion are lightly toasted, add the linguiça.

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7. Once the linguiça is cooked, add ALL of the cut kale. Make sure to constantly toss that kale around the pan–you will begin to see the volume of the kale decrease significantly. I like to use chopsticks or a wooden spatula for this part.

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8. Add salt to kale to your taste and leisure.

9. After 15 minutes, the potatoes should be ready to be pureed using a mixer (or blender if you are a badass). Don’t drain the water, puree the potatoes and water together directly in the pot.

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10. Then add everything in the frying pan to the potatoes in the pressure cooker, with the bay leaves on top.

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11. Let warm and add salt to taste. The soup should be thick but not too thick. I don’t suggest adding any more water, but add it if you prefer.

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12. Once served, feel free to add some olive oil for a little more umph.

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You are now ready to turn your turntable on if it isn’t already, sit down, slurp, and listen to the album in its entirety.

3 Comments

  • Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    We made this tonight — delicious! I started getting obsessed with Portuguese potato and kale soup since watching Bourdain’s Azores episode: http://www.anthonybourdain.net/reminder-no-reservations-azores

    Your recipe is nice with the pureed potatoes making for a creamy soup. It’s hard to find the right kind of sausage for this, though. We got a smoked sausage at a Brooklyn gourmet store:
    http://www.vtsmokeandcure.com/Original-Summer-Sausages.html
    but found that it was a little too acidic/sour… must keep looking for the right sausage!

  • Kayoko
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I never told you that I made this! I actually had stirred in chicken stock instead of water, which wasn’t a great idea. It gave it this gamey subtlety that was unneccessary.

    What a great recipe though, perfect for a cold night. Thanks Bry!

  • Bryan
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I’m making it again right now. Love it.

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