When Cabral's fleet arrived in Brazilian lands some 500 years back, they brought along many things, like their cultural habits, language, religion and also their culinary traditions. They taught Brazilian Native Indians how to dress, pray, eat, talk and just "be civilized", among other things. In exchange, they got our lands. Not a bad deal, right?
The fact is that you cannot speak of Brazilian cuisine without mentioning Portugal. Portuguese influence is quite strong inside Brazilian kitchens. We eat lots of cod (which the Portuguese taught us how to preserve in salt), we buy pasteis de nata at local bakeries and we love caldo verde.
Caldo verde literally means green broth. It is a very simple yet delicious soup made with a base of oil, water, onions and potatoes. To me this is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It is amazing how a few simple ingredients can make such a wonderful soup.The verde part comes from very thin stripes of collard greens. The soup is normally topped with pieces of linguiça, but here at home I have it vegetarian and add the meat only in Andrew's bowl of soup. A quick look at the ingredient's list and one also notices that this is a very inexpensive dish to make.
The traditional way, with smoked Portuguese sausage
My vegetarian version, just omitting the sausage and adding a few crackers on the side
To most important element of caldo verde are the collard greens, they must be slices ultra-thin. I put together a step-by-step with photos on how to prepare them, hope it helps.
Caldo Verde Recipe:
You will need:
2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil. I used extra virgin because the oil plays a big part on this soup
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 medium size starchy potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 quart of water
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch of collard greens, washed and thinly slices (see Preparing Collards instructions bellow)
Portuguese smoked sausage, or any sausage of your choice, cooked and sliced
1 - Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are soft.
2 - Add the potatoes, cook quickly for a couple of minutes.
3 - Add the water and salt starting with 2 teaspoons and adding the rest if necessary at the end. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are completely cooked.
4 - Blend the soup: there are many ways to do it. You can use an immersion blender directly in the pot or you can transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend it. If you like a chunky soup, leave some pieces of potatoes whole. What I do sometimes is to leave the soup simmering for long enough that the potatoes start to fall apart. You can add more water if you think it's too thick.
Taste the soup and adjust salt if necessary, add fresh pepper to taste.
Place a handful of collards on the bottom of each bowl and pour soup. Make sure the soup is extremely hot, as it will flash cook the greens. Top it with the slices sausages, if using.
Step 1 Step 2
Step 3 Step 4
Preparing Collard Greens for Caldo Verde:
First, wash and dry the leaves.
Remove the tough middle stem
Pile leaves and roll them like in the picture, making log shapes
Chop logs as thin as you can. On this case, there is no such thing as too thin. for this soup, I also like to run the knife once on the opposite direction, such as to chop the leaves, just to break them a little bit. It makes it easier to eat the soup, instead of long strings.