Caldo verde – a Portuguese soup classically featuring kale, potatoes and chorizo swimming in a nourishing, mineral-rich stock – is a remarkable dish. Richly flavored and deeply satisfying in a way only traditional peasant foods can manage, caldo verde is simple to prepare and a truly delightful addition to the supper table. Like all dishes – particularly soups and stews – that have found their way into the repertoire of much-loved family cooks, caldo verde is versatile: some versions include white beans, others omit carrots, some include linguiça sausage while others yet omit meat entirely.
My version of caldo verde is generously seasoned, first by dried chili peppers and then by smoked Spanish paprika – a spice with a deep, beautiful smoky and spicy scent. The addition of these spices turns the broth a brilliant, dark red which contrasts dramatically with the deep green kale and the pale, creamy flesh of fingerling potatoes. Find the smallest fingerling potatoes you can for this dish. When prepared whole instead of chopped they add visual interest to the soup bowl making for a lovely, albeit rustic, presentation at the supper table.
As with all dishes, it is essential that you choose the very best ingredients available to you when preparing caldo verde at home. Nourish yourself well by ensuring that you source your ingredients at their freshest, while supporting small farms that maintain sustainable and holistic methods in their approach to growing vegetables and raising livestock. By making this conscious choice you support your local economy and support your local agriculture, you ensure that the freshest foods reach your table and the fresher your foods are, the more nutrients they offer. Take care to use a good, homemade roast chicken stock or fresh chicken broth, which not only imparts a brilliantly rich flavor to the soup but is also dense in micronutrients, particularly trace minerals and other components such as glucosamine chondroitin1 – that hero of the supplement world which some experts believe may be useful in the treatment of arthritis2. Kale provides carotenoids, vitamin K1 and a good dose of the mineral manganese3.
- 1½ lbs fingerling potatoes, (preferably no longer than two inches)
- 1 tbsp bacon fat or lard
- 1 lb chorizo
- 2 to 3 dried chili peppers
- 2 shallots, (thinly sliced)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, (minced)
- 3 medium carrots,, (chopped)
- 2 quarts roast chicken stock, (preferably homemade)
- 2 bunches kale, (stems removed and chopped coarsely)
- 1 to 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- unrefined sea salt, (to taste)
- unrefined extra virgin olive oil , (to serve)
- Set a kettle filled with clean water to boil, and boil potatoes until tender when pierced with the tines of a fork. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.
- In the same kettle in which you boiled the potatoes, heat bacon fat or pastured lard over a medium flame until melted.
- Add the chorizo to the pan and fry until thoroughly heated through and well-cooked.
- Add the chili peppers, shallots, garlic and carrots to the cooked chorizo and fry with the sausage until they become fragrant and tender.
- Pour two quarts homemade roast chicken stock into the kettle, and bring to a simmer. Stir as needed and allow the soup to cook for twenty to thirty minutes or so, add the cooked potatoes and continue to cook for another ten minutes.
- About five to ten minutes before you plan to serve the soup, turn off the heat and stir chopped kale, smoked paprika and unrefined sea salt into the soup. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow the caldo verde to rest for about five minutes or long enough to wilt the kale.
- Serve with a generous portion of unrefined extra virgin olive oil stirred into the soup at the last minute.