Before I married Geordie, I’d never heard of caldo verde, which is a soup popular in Portuguese cuisines. It’s often eaten at celebrations, but for us, it’s a winter standard, and one I love to make.

caldoverde

One of the first people I met from Geordie’s extended family was his Aunt Lynne. By an interesting coincidence, she and her family lived in St. Augustine, where I had gone to college and lived for a good seven years. It’s where my BFF still lives. So, naturally, after we had arrived back in the States, we made plans to go to St. Augustine and visit.

Aunt Lynne works for a catering business, and she is quite the excellent (self-taught) cook. She makes delicious food, and she’s so terrifically awesome that she always made a point to make something fabulous to eat when we came to visit. The first time I met her, we went to the catering office, where she was toiling away over a big pot of soup. After a very emotional (and adorable) reunion between her and Geordie, she told us that she hoped we’d want something to eat, because she was making Portuguese kale soup.

Geordie’s eyes fairly lit up. “Oh, boy!” he said. Aunt Lynne sat us down at a picnic table outside the building and brought us two Styrofoam bowls of steaming hot soup. It was overflowing with veggies, beans, and sausage. I took one look at it and thought, um.

You see, I prefer creamy soups. I always have. I’ve always been shy of big bowls of soup with large pieces of vegetables looking at me. This is how you get when you don’t like onion and celery in your soup, since quite a lot of chunky soups are built upon their base. But Geordie was shoveling the soup into his mouth as quickly as he could, and nobody could hate onions more than the man I married. So, to be polite, I took a teensy bite.

Of course I liked it. It’s a very tasty soup. It’s a very hearty, very filling soup – perfect comfort food for a winter’s day. I liked it well enough that I told Geordie I’d make it sometime if he wanted me to, and that made him happy, which made me happy. It was the first recipe I asked Aunt Lynne for, but not the last one. But it is the one I’ve made the most.

I’ve been eating this soup for only a year now, and it’s easily one of my favorite soups. Second only to homemade lobster bisque. It’s quite popular where Geordie comes from, but as I’ve never had much exposure to Portuguese cuisine, I’d been terribly ignorant of its existence. Thank goodness that changed! It might not stay cold for long here in Texas, but this is the perfect soup for a chilly winter’s evening.

It’s a fairly simple recipe, one that’s good for tinkering with. For one thing, you can, if you choose, make this soup with onion and celery. But not in this house. You can play with the veggies a little. I usually dice up a carrot or two to add to the soup, but I had run out of carrots when I was making this batch. I used a can of corn instead, and it came out quite nicely. You could also use a different kind of pasta, though smaller types are best. It’s not a finicky soup – do with it as you please, and it won’t treat you badly.

 

Portuguese Kale Soup
yields 4 plentiful servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
½ cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
5-6 cups chicken stock
12-oz can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
6 oz chopped linguiça or chorizo
15-oz can of kidney beans, drained
½ cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 bunches of kale, stemmed and chopped
seasonings to your taste (salt, pepper, thyme, basil, etc.)

Saute the garlic and carrots in the oil over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and heat through. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the linguiça (or chorizo) and the beans. Add in the seasonings – I toss in a couple teaspoons of thyme and basil, along with some salt and pepper, but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. Bay works well too, though be sure to fish it out before eating. Simmer until the veggies are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Add the kale and the macaroni and cook until tender, 7-10 minutes. Serve with a nice, crusty bread.

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