Caldo verde is a traditional Portuguese soup—caldo: broth/soup and verde: green. I have made this soup before, but various food issues with my family have prevented me from making it “authentically.” In its simplest form it is just greens, potatoes, onions, garlic, pepper, and chicken broth. Last time, I had to make this soup without potatoes and this time I need to eliminate the garlic and onions. I am not sure I can still call this a “Portuguese” caldo verde, because—even though it will still be a “green soup”—I am eliminating three of the six basic ingredients.
The star of caldo verde is the kale. In the recipes I have looked at they only cook the kale for three to five minutes. In the last kale soup I made, I cut the leaves into half inch strips. Even after 10 minutes of simmering, the kale was still tough and chewy. John Villa gives the secret to avoiding this culinary problem, “What’s crucial when preparing it is that the kale is cut into extremely fine slices; that’s what creates the soup’s distinctive character.”
Chris is going back to his ketogenic diet to lose weight after the holidays. Miriam is having problems with garlic and onions. To replace the potato, I decided to use turnip and to substitute for the aromatics I used carrots and celery. Traditionally, this soup calls for some kind of pork sausage. I had planned to use Portuguese chouriço (chorizo in Spanish), but forgot to add it as I was making the soup. My family was perfectly happy for me to make a more vegetarian forward dish. However, with all of the changes I have made to this soup, I do not think that what I ended up with—while still a green soup—can be called “Portuguese.”
After Dinner Note: My family really like how this soup turned out. My daughter pointed out that—with how I have ended up making this dish—it would be easy to make it Vegan by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth and using Better than Bouillon, Vegetable Base.
Karl’s Caldo Verde (Green Soup) without Garlic and Onions
6 oz. curly leafed kale
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced finely
2 carrots, grated
15.5 oz. chicken broth
32 oz. chicken bone broth
1 Tbs. Better than Bouillon, chicken, low sodium
½ tsp. Pimentón de la Vera Dulce (smoked Spanish paprika mild)
¼ tsp. Pimentón de la Vera Pecante (smoked Spanish paprika hot)
Zest of one lemon
1 large turnip, diced
2 cups green cabbage, shredded finely
¼ cup dry sherry
½ tsp. white pepper
1. Trim the tough central rib from each kale leaf.
2. Chop the ribs into small pieces and set them aside.
Tip: The ribs are edible, but very tough and fibrous.
Note: After cooking the ribs and aromatics, the soup base will be blended to break up the fibers.
3. Stack several pieces of the leafy kale and shred them as finely as you can.
4. Continue with the rest of the kale and set the shreds aside.
Tip: I submerge the shreds in a bowl of cold water to keep them from wilting.
5. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
6. Sauté the celery and carrots until just starting to pick up some color, about 5-6 minutes.
7. Add the kale ribs and sauté for 4-5 minutes more.
8. Add the can of chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil.
9. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the vegetables for 10 minutes, until tender.
10. Put the soup base in a standing blender and process it until the solids are broken up.
11. Return the soup to the pot and add the bone broth to the pot.
Tip: Use the bone broth to rinse out the blender jar.
12. Add the bouillon paste, paprikas, and lemon zest.
Note: The bouillon is salty enough that you should not add any extra salt. Also, unlike potatoes—which absorb salt—turnips do not. If you over salt this dish you will have a problem.
13. Add the turnip and bring the soup to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
14. Stir in the cabbage and simmer for another five minutes.
15. Add the kale shreds, sherry, and white pepper.
Tip: Do not just dump the shredded kale into the soup, it will clump up and be hard to serve. Stir in handfuls at a time, so that it is evenly distributed throughout the soup.
16. Cover and simmer for a final 2 to 10 minutes.
Tip: The thin shreds of kale cook very quickly. Do not overcook the kale. It will turn unpleasantly bitter if cook too long.
Note: How long you cook the kale is a personal choice. Cooked for two minutes and the kale will maintain its bright green color. If you cook it for ten minutes it will lose some of its color, but the leaves will have a more tender bite.
17. Put the caldo verde into a serving bowl.
Tip: You may garnish with some parsley of a shake of paprika.