Shorter days and cooler temperatures prep our palates for soups. Caldo Verde, also known as Portuguese Soup, is a simple broth with potatoes, kale and a little linguiça or chouriço for flavoring. It’s a beautiful, traditional soup which is eaten regularly and also served at special occasions like weddings and festivals. To me, its appeal lies in its versatility. Caldo Verde can be rich and hearty, or simple and cooling depending on the ingredients used.
The traditional method of preparation involves making a very simple broth of sauted onions and garlic and water to which potatoes and kale are added. The sausage, if used, is cooked in a separate pan and added near the end of preparation (Wiki). You can find this version on the internet, but it doesn’t appeal to me personally.
Those who don’t care for kale will be relieved to know any hearty green can be used to make Caldo Verde. I have seen recipes using collards as well as chard, and I’m sure spinach will work as well. Use whatever is in season and available to you.
If you’re not an omnivore, Caldo Verde can be veggified (yes, that’s a word) by using vegetable broth and replacing the sausage with white beans or mushrooms or both. Add some smoky paprika and red pepper flake to mimic the spices in the sausage.
There’s no reason you can’t use white beans and mushrooms AND sausage if you want…it’s your soup, after all.
Can’t find Portuguese linguiça or chouriço? Substitute any cured sausage like Spanish style chorizo, kielbasa or andouille. If you want to try a vegetarian sausage, go ahead! Although if it tends to crumble, you might want to try cooking it separately and adding it at the end.
I hope I’ve convinced you to try Caldo Verde and to make it to suit your own tastes and the availability of the ingredients. For this particular batch I used vegetable broth, swiss chard and about 2 ounces of Spanish chorizo. Rick didn’t care for the chard, so next time, if I can’t find kale I’ll use spinach instead.
- 2 quarts broth; vegetable, chicken or beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 4 fist sized potatoes, washed and cut into thin slices
- 3 - 4 cups (about a pound by weight) washed, stemmed and sliced hearty greens; kale, chard, collards, spinach, etc (Frozen will work, too)
- pinch red pepper flake
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ounces chorizo or other cured sausage, sliced thinly
- 2 cups canned or cooked white beans (optional)
- 1 pack mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon or more smoky paprika (optional if not using sausage)
- In a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flake until softened and beginning to change color.
- Add the broth and the sliced potatoes.
- Bring to a simmer and cook the potatoes until softened, about 15 minutes. Use a spoon or potato masher to break the potatoes up into smaller chunks.
- Stir in the greens, work in batches and add more as they wilt.
- Add the chorizo and/or optional ingredients and cook until heated through.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
We’ve found that when using chorizo and other cured sausages to flavor a quick cooking soup like Caldo Verde that it’s best to add it at the end of the cooking time because it tends to become a hard, tasteless hunk of meat as the fat and seasonings are rendered out.
Want to read a little more about Portugal? Hop over to Life Beyond the Kitchen, our new sister blog, to read about our trip. And if you’re ready for something sweet, learn how easy it is to make Serradura, a parfait like dessert from Portugal.