Loosely adapted from a recipe by John Villa
Serves 6 to 8
Considered by many to be Portugal’s national dish, caldo verde is found everywhere—in the dining rooms of Lisbon’s most luxurious hotels to the humblest of country homes. It’s a versatile dish: Serve it as a one-course meal at lunch or as a light supper in the evening. 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.—John Villa
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces chouriço, linguiça, or Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced; don’t be afraid to go for a third or fourth. The Portuguese love their garlic
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups cold water, or half chicken stock and half water
1 pound kale or collard greens, thick middle stem removed, and leaves cut into very, very fine julienne (think wisker-thin)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, although the Portuguese are found of white pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chouriço slices and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage to a plate. Try to let the sausage drain well into the pot; its fat will flavor the soup.
2. Dump the onions into the pot. Sauté, adding enough salt to bring out their sweetness, until they’re translucent and very soft. Sprinkle in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
3. Plonk in the potatoes, cover everything with the water, or the chicken stock-water combo, and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat so the soup gently simmers. Cook until the potatoes are almost done, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. When the caldo verde is cool enough to handle, purée it using a wand blender. Here’s where you have to make a decision: Tradition states that one slice and only one slice of chouriço is added to each bowl. Chef Villa likes to add half the sausage slices to the pot before puréeing. It’s your choice.
5. Add the greens to the soup, bring everything back to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper.
6. Ladle the caldo verde into bowls and garnish with the remaining slices of chouriço. (But trust David, cooling the soup overnight in the fridge and reheating it the next day will do wonders for its flavor.)
Recipe © 2001 John Villa. All rights reserved.