Portuguese Green Soup:
the Real Thing...and a Fancy Version
Delicate, beautiful, and restorative. How do I know? It was my 50th birthday soup: after waking up to a pouring rain in Castelo da Vide, horribly sick from goat stew, daughter Meg and I made the long, twisting drive to Evora; at day's end, she insisted on buying me birthday dinner in our tiny hotel dining room. Caldo Verde--it was just what the doctor should have ordered. Serve this recipe hot as a first course to 6 people.
THE REAL THING
Maria do Carmo Torres of Lisboa, Portugal, has been kind enough to contribute the following recipe, in the true spirit of Caldo Verde being a soup of the people:
Maria, who when not working loves to cook, listen to music and opera, go to the movies, and read (and who admits to being "owned" by a she-cat), says: "this kind of soup is to be eaten in winter. You can see that it serves as a poor peasants' food, with all ingredients coming from the kitchen garden. Along with the caldo, you can also serve corn bread (broa). Bom apetite--have a good meal!"
- Make a light broth with potatoes, as light as possible.
- Take dark green cabbage, or kale--in Portugal called "couve galega"--roll the leaves tightly and sliced them as thinly as possible. Scald briefly so they are brilliant green. The cabbage should be abundant to give body to the broth.
- When ready to serve, add the scalded cabbage to the broth with a little olive oil and let it boil for about 5 minutes, so the olive oil can cook.
- Serve with slices of the smallest Portuguese pork sausage you can find--each region in Portugal has its own, most of them spiced with paprika (colorau)
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THE FANCY VERSION
In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in 3 Tablespoons of oil for about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Add water, cover, and boil gently over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are mushy. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a skillet over low heat for about 10 minutes, until most of the fat has drained out. Drain well and reserve.
- 1 onion, minced fine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 6 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 quarts cold water
- 6 oz. dry, garlicky sausage (linguica, chorizo, even pepperoni), sliced paper thin
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 lb. collards, kale, or turnip greens, washed, trimmed, rolled up and sliced into extra fine shreds (in a pinch, slightly defrost frozen kale and finely shred it with a sharp knife)
When the potatoes are soft, remove from the heat and either mash them in the pan with a masher or puree them--then add the sausage, salt, and pepper. Return to medium heat, cover, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
When ready to serve, add the shreds of greens and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes--until they are tender and the color of jade. Mix in the last Tablespoon of oil, taste for seasoning, and ladle into large flat soup plates.