Soup Week II: Caldo Verde

Soup_SpoonThe Wife and I fell out of series television when The Kid was born. As of today’s writing, that was nearly five years ago. We were big fans of Modern FamilyCSIBones and some other shows that escape me. Yeah. All went to pot once our delicate routine of television watching became interrupted by the wriggling mass of arms and legs swaddled in blankets. The time for television went away, leaving us with random baseball, basketball or soccer games on TV.

While The Kid has grown older and developed a more predictable sleeping pattern, our affinity to television shows has not returned. I DVR TopGear on BBC America and there are a couple of PBS shows we try to catch, but there is really only one show that we make an effort to watch when it airs: Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown. Except for last season when I lost track of time and the shows started stacking up on the DVR.

I’ve read most of Bourdain’s books and I’m unsure what makes the greatests draw for my attention: the writing style, the “fuck the establishment” attitude, or his perspective on food and the world. Each of those things aligns nicely with my general world view. The show is a masterpiece of cinematography and storytelling, and I won’t drone on further other than to say that this soup was the result of his Massachusetts episode from the fourth season, which we watched long after its original airing.

During Bourdain’s homecoming to Provincetown, he went to lunch at a local restaurant and had Portuguese kale soup. The Wife uttered, “Oh, that looks good,” in that way she says it when she wants to know if I will make something for her. I told her that it could be easily made and went on a search for recipes.

2015-03-01 at 18-03-30Traditional Portuguese kale soup, or caldo verde, uses a traditional Portuguese sausage called linguiça. Now, my problem is that no one in the Greater Syracuse area stocks linguiça. I called butchers, grocers, and had the following conversation with the meat manager at the behemoth Wegmans store in Dewitt:

ME: Do you have linguiça?
MEAT GUY: We have chorizo.
ME: Right, I thought I had seen it here before over with the sausage and just wanted to check.
MEAT GUY: We have chorizo.

Gee, thanks. Every day you get their best.

Anyhow, cured chorizo works just as well in this soup, as it is related to a slightly spicier Portuguese sausage called chourico. Linguiça is the mildest of Iberian sausages, but as Mr. Happy Helpful Meat Guy said, I was out of luck there.

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I have nothing to compare this soup to, though The Wife liked it so I’ll take that as a win. It’s an incredibly cheap soup to make and the final product makes about four quarts of soup for the freezer, lunch, leftovers, and birthday presents.

WHAT WORKED: This is what I call a metarecipe, the result of marrying a number of recipes, including entries by Emeril Lagasse, and from the website I Am Provincetown.

WHAT DIDN’T: The chorizo was fine, but I was hoping for something a little more authentic. I wanted linguiça.

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. Add stuff to pot then cook.

BEST FOR: A cold and snowy or cold and rainy weekend day. This is the type of soup that warms your soul.

SERVE WITH: Crusty bread and a mild ale or lager.

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Caldo Verde
Inspired by the recipes at

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 qt. vegetable stock
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 1 lb. cured linguiça, chourico or chorizo sausage, diced
  • 4 cups kale, tough stems removed
  • 15 oz. can cannellini beans

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Add oil to a large soup pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Toss to coat in the oil, and cook until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the potatoes are soft. This should take about 20 minutes.

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Remove the pan from the stovetop and set on a flat surface. Use a potato masher to breakup the potatoes. Don’t mash them completely, but just enough where the potatoes break up into chunks.

Return to a medium-low burner and add the sausage. Stir well to combine, then let simmer for 30 minutes.

2015-03-01 at 18-23-02Increase heat to medium and add the kale and beans. Cook until the kale is wilted and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot.

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