Why It Works
- Russet potatoes give the soup a thick, creamy texture, while Yukon Golds hold their shape to give you nice chunks.
- Finely chopped or shredded kale tenderizes rapidly and gives the soup a nice green color.
Caldo verde, a potato and kale soup from northern Portugal, is one of those dishes that seem custom-made for lazy rainy days, when you want something hearty and comforting but don't feel like putting in a ton of effort. It's made with a few cheap and simple ingredients, it takes all of maybe 10 minutes of prep work, and it's ready to eat just half an hour later. Oh, and it's all made in a single pot, too. And did I mention delicious? It's delicious.
The only way you could really make this any easier is if you could convince someone to make it for you. Even that might take more effort.
Recipes for caldo verde don't vary too greatly. Most start with sautéing some form of allium (onions, leeks, garlic, or a mix) in olive oil, then adding kale, potatoes, and broth and letting it simmer. The only real differences come in the treatment of the kale and the degree to which the whole thing is cooked down. The best caldo verde I had in Portugal was cooked long enough that the potatoes almost completely broke down, thickening the soup into a creamy broth that was tinted deep green by finely shredded strips of kale. (Caldo verde means "green soup," so if you aren't cooking your kale long enough to turn the soup green, you ain't making caldo verde!)
At the same time, I also like the idea of having a few heartier chunks of potato in the soup. It reminds me a lot of ajiaco, a Colombian potato soup made by boiling a few types of potatoes together. The starchier potatoes break down and thicken the soup, while the waxier varieties become tender but hold their shape better. I decided to use the same technique in my caldo verde.
It worked like a charm. After 25 minutes of simmering, russet potatoes become tender enough that some rough stirring causes them to shed starch and thicken the soup. Meanwhile, Yukon Golds hold their shape nicely. Twenty-five minutes is also plenty of time for even tough curly kale to soften up.
The soup can be made entirely vegetarian by using either vegetable stock or water as the base, but chicken stock will give it a bit more flavor if you don't mind the meatiness. Adding some form of sausage to the soup is also not a necessity, but it's not uncommon. Sausages like chouriço, linguiça, or salpicão—a hard pork sausage flavored with red wine and paprika—are typically cooked separately, then added to the finished soup as a garnish. Most places I've shopped in the US that have these sausages available sell them precooked, which makes them very convenient for soups like this. Just slice them up and add them toward the end of the simmering.
Really traditional Portuguese-style sausages can be a little tough to find in the US, but any garlicky precooked or dry-cured pork sausage can stand in. Go with what's available and what you like.
How to Make Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup)
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion or large leek, finely diced (about 8 ounces; 225g)
3 medium cloves garlic, sliced (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large russet potato, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1/2 pound; 225g)
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1/2 pound; 225g)
6 cups (1.4L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (see note)
1 bunch curly or lacinato kale, tough stems removed, leaves finely chopped (about 3/4 pound; 340g
12 ounces (340g) cooked linguiça or other garlicky pork sausage, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices (see note)
Minced fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
Heat butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion (or leek) and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes, adding olive oil as necessary to keep the mixture loose and moist.
Add potatoes and stock and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add kale and continue to cook until russet potato slices have completely broken down (you can press them with a spoon or potato masher for an even thicker texture), the Yukon Golds are tender, the greens have softened, and the soup has thickened to a creamy consistency, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in sausage. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with chives, if desired.
You can make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock and omitting the sausage.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 37g||47%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||53%|
|Total Carbohydrate 25g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||12%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 34mg||168%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|