The light smoke on the imported sausage couples with the bitter greens and a velvety potato-stock base for this tasty Portuguese national dish.
Caldo verde, or literally “green broth,” is a popular and traditional rustic soup with origins in northern Portugal that immigrants have carried with them to the far corners of the globe. It is generally served during celebrations such as weddings or birthdays as either a main course or a late-night meal and, like many traditional dishes, multiple variations on a common theme can be found village to village, kitchen to kitchen.
The essential ingredient is the Spanish chorizo (in Portuguese, chouriço) which, depending on where you live, may take some effort to acquire. In the American West and Southwest, chorizo refers to the Mexican version — a crumbly, firey-spiced, uncured pork sausage that makes a great breakfast with scrambled eggs and tortillas.
However, the Spanish chorizo is a firm, smoked and cured pork product with a subtle heat and spice that stands up well in a soup with chunks of potatoes. If unable to find genuine Spanish chorizo, the similar paio or linguiça can be used or even an Italian pepperoni or spicy salami if necessary.
A softer potato like Yukon gold is best in this soup as it breaks down easily and lends to the creamy body in the finish. Traditional European recipes call for kale but any bitter green can be substituted, with collard greens complimenting well the smoked flavor of the pork. The soup’s name refers to the fine shredding of the greens that dominate the color of the soup, but the size of the chop is a personal preference.
As an accompaniment, this soup needs nothing more than a side of cornbread (Portuguese broa) for a full and satisfying meal.
8 oz Spanish chorizo
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
½ lb collard greens
½ yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 c chicken stock
2 c water
1 t white wine vinegar
red chile flakes
1 Cut the chorizo into ½-in pieces and lightly fry in a little oil until browned, about 5 min. Remove and set aside, and pour out the leftover oil.
2 Chop the onion and garlic and sauté in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 2-3 min.
3 Dice the potato and add along with the broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 min.
4 Remove about 1 c of solids and broth to a blender. When slightly cooled, purée until smooth and drizzle in about 1 T of oil and the vinegar to form a light emulsion.
5 Stem and chop the collard greens and simmer, covered, for about 10 min more.
6 Add the chorizo and continue to simmer for another 10 min. Stir in the puréed potatoes, and season to taste.