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Monday, January 12, 2009

Caldo Verde

Pin It caldo verde

 

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

caldo verde andrew

 

My vegetarian version, just omitting the sausage and adding a few crackers on the side

caldo verde mine

 

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

 base1 base

Step 3                                                                         Step 4

 waterblending

 

 Preparing Collard Greens for Caldo Verde:

First, wash and dry the leaves.

collard prep 

Remove the tough middle stem

collard prep2

Pile leaves and roll them like in the picture, making log shapes

collard prep3

 

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.

collard prep 4

15 comments:

Wandering Chopsticks said...

It's so simple. I'll have to try making this as my uncle has lots of collard greens in his garden. I actually like the tough center stems and add it to soups too for fiber.

Pretend Chef said...

I was never a fan of chicken soup (sacrilege, I know), so whenever I was sick my mom would make me some caldo verde.

When I make it for myself these days, I also omit the linguica, but I also blend half of the collards in with the potatoes/onion/etc, I find it gives it a nicer texture, but maybe that's just me!

Rita said...

WC - I never even tried the tough stems.Isn't it amazing how just a few simple flavours can make something so nice?

Pretend Chef - I like adding the collards at the end also because it maintains its bright green colour.

Tiago said...

Até para um português a sopa aparenta estar deliciosa :)

Rita said...

Obrigada Tiago! Uma sopa Portuguesa, com certeza...

Lori said...

Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I had Caldo Verde at a feira in town and loved it. Is couve the Brazilian version of the collard green?I want to try making this while I'm still in Brazil. Thanks again!

Rita said...

Hi Lori! yes, couve is collard greens (couve-flor is cauliflower), it's sometimes named "couve mineira".
Try it out, it's so simple,let me know how it turned out! When are you leaving Brazil?

Lori said...

Thanks! I'll pick some up next week and give it a try. We'll be moving back to the States in October so I've still got a few more months to enjoy the amazing produce. :)

Andrea said...

Wow. This was simple and delicious. I've never had this kind of soup before. I made mine pretty smooth because my son doesn't like soup and I can't sneak broth type soups past him. I don't usually like EVOO because the flavor is too much, but it was perfect for this soup. Thanks for the recipe.

Rosie said...

Hi! I've had this recipe bookmarked for a while because I think it looks delicious! Unfortunately, I've not heard of collards, and I'm not sure that I can get them where I live (the UK). If possible, could you recommend another vegetable that I could use as a substitute? Thanks for posting this recipe!

Rita said...

Rosie - Collads are very dark green, bitter leaves, so anything that resembles that would work.Do you have kale there in the UK? I see people using it in this soup a lot. Let me know if this helps, or I can do some more research. This soup is worth it!

Rosie said...

Hi Rita, thank you so much for your help with this! I'm sorry it's taken me a while to spot your comment for me. We have kale here, yes! That looks as though it would be right, though I have never eaten it before (well not for years!). I'll definitely give this soup a try with the kale. Thanks so much for your kind help!

Anonymous said...

This takes me back 40+ years. I born in Portugal
(Tras-Os-Montes region) but grew up in Long Island, NY. This is the best winter soup EVER!

Anonymous said...

Just made a huge pot of caldo verde...a favorite I learned to love while an exchange student in Portugal 30 years ago! Some changes I have made...I steam my potatoes, onion and garlic, then puree with chicken stock instead of water. I add a splash of olive oil to each serving bowl so the oil doesn't break down and you get the full health benefits. Tonight I used Buffalo Wing Chicken Sausage...very nice! Thanks for sharing your version. It helped me remember how to make the soup. Beijos!

craftynorete said...

I am Portuguese I do make caldo Verde all time /
but i do a bit diferente when the potatoes done mash and hot boil i put the Kale right inside the pot cover and turn the heat off. then serve
corn bread with is good too .

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