Caldo Verde | Portuguese Kale Soup

Caldo Verde Portuguese Kale Soup Recipe

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

Caldo Verde Portuguese Kale Soup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Kosher salt
  • 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 homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth, 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

Directions

  • 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.)
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Comments
Comments
  1. PK says:

    Good recipe but do the following to make it great:

    1. Cut the onion amount in half and double the garlic.
    2. Pan fry all of the saugage and add the onions and garlic and saute them until translucent.  
    3. Split the water amount and boil the potatoes in one pot. In the second pot, add the saute to the water and keep on a low simmer setting.  
    4. Once the potatoes are cooked you will need to puree then (do not discard the water you boiled the potatoes in).
    5. Combine all material into the larger pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Add your chopped Kale to the soup and simmer for five minutes. Enjoy!

    • David Leite says:

      PK, thanks for your comment. Everyone, here’s another way to add great flavor to an already flavorful soup.

      • Carl says:

        I’m a confused newbie…do I purée everything or only the potatoes?

        • David Leite says:

          Hi newbie Carl. There are many ways to make this soup, but chef John Villa instructs you to purée the onions, garlic, half the chouriço, potatoes, and water. Then you add the greens and the the rest of the sausage.

          The more classic approach is the purée the onions, garlic, potatoes, water; stir in the greens and cook a few minutes; then add the chouriço that you’ve sliced not diced.

          One hint: whichever way you make it, it benefits tremendously from sitting a day in the fridge then reheating.

    • Herb says:

      This soup was fantastic, I used turkey sausage instead of choriço, but to add flavor, I fried two slices of bacon first. (My daughter won’t eat pork, so I didn’t mention the bacon.) This soup is to die for!!!

      • David Leite says:

        Herb, so glad you liked the soup. When your daughter’s not around, try the orignal. It’s entirely different with the Portuguese sausage. Smokey and spicy in a different way. I hope you’ll like that too!

  2. Chris Morte says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the great website. Traditionally (at least, where I grew up in Toronto), I ate Caldo Verde with a slice of this very dense corn bread we would get at any number of portuguese bakeries in the city. I searched on your website for a recipe for this bread but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I’ve never seen an equivalent type of cornbread (as you might know it differs greatly from mexican corn bread).

    Any ideas as to where to find a recipe for that?

    Oh. and I agree in part with PK, although I kept the same amount of onions and tripled the garlic, not doubled it. But I did that not because this recipe isn’t good as is (because it is)… I just happen to like garlic!

    Thank you for posting this traditional dish. I saw other versions of it that called for kidney beans and knew it wasn’t the same kind of ‘authentic” dish that I grew up loving.

    -Chris

    • David Leite says:

      Chris, there’s a recipe on the site for Portuguese corn bread, called broa. I also have one in my cookbook, The New Portuguese Table

      Also, kale soup with kidney beans is actually an Azorean soup called sopa de couve. It’s a more rustic soup–a kind of country cousin to the more sophisticated caldo verde.

  3. Vin says:

    Great recipe! I’m on a low-carb diet so I substituted cauliflower florets for the potatoes. It’s super delish!

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      What a great idea! Cauliflower is such a wonderful substitute for potatoes on those low-carb diets. My favorite is mock mashed potatoes- so yummy.

  4. cz says:

    Very good, followed the recipe as written using collard greens from my garden. Would make one change next time, I would add some salt with the onions and then a bit more with the potatoes. It was flat and took more salt than I think necessary when all added at the end. Of course perhaps this depends on the chorizo, this is only the second time I’ve used this. Will definitely make again, plenty more collards and kale in the garden.

    • David Leite says:

      cz, good point about the chouriço. Some can be a bit saltier than others–and Spanish chorizo is different than Portuguese chouriço. One thing you can do is fry up a bit of the sausage before making the soup. That would give you an idea of how much salt you need to add–if at all.

    • I agree here — my sausage was salty, but even so the resulting soup needed quite a bit of salt. Next time I would salt the vegetables as I went.

      • David Leite says:

        Anita, thanks for the input. I’ve rewritten this so that it reflects your suggestion. (Tip of the hat in gratitude.)

  5. sarah says:

    How do you puree potatoes ?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I would either transfer the soup to a food processor, as the recipe specifies, or use an immersion blender. Hope that you give it a try!

  6. Jane says:

    i live in southern california and have only seen the mexican and spanish chorizo. where do i find portuguese chourico?

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Jane. From my research I found that these two locations have sold Portuguese chouriço or linguiça in the past. Please let me know if you have success, as we can add them to our resources list.

      La Espanola Spanish Sausage at 25020 Doble Ave, Harbor City, CA (310) 539-0455

      Portazil Pastry 18159 Pioneer Blvd Artesia, CA (562) 865-1141

  7. cristina says:

    I use to live in San Diego, CA. I could never find chouriço. i live in Massachusetts now, and there are many markets here. i am sure u could have it shipped.

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Cristina. Yes, indeed, you can have it shipped. My utterly favorite chouriço that ships is from Lopes Sausage Co. 304 Walnut St., Newark, NJ 07105 (973) 344-3063.

  8. Kathryn O'Brien Custadio says:

    Hi, I am making Portuguese Kale soup for the first time today…I live in Fall River, MA, and we have a huge population of Portuguese. The more I ask about the soup, the more variations I get. I guess it all depends on how you like it. Around here beef shank is a staple for the soup as well as kale and chouriço. After that, its really what you prefer. Great comfort food. I’m lucky to be able to enjoy the local cuisine in this area… :-)

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Kathryn, thanks for writing. I, too, am from Fall River, MA, so I know all about the different versions! In fact, last Sunday I was a judge at the Annual Kale Festival held at BCC. We tasted 16 different kale soups, and each was unique. My mom never uses beef shanks, but I know it’s common in the area. To me that creeps a little bit closer to sopa do Espirito Santo.

      I hope you have great success with your soup. Stop by again and tell us how it went.

  9. thi says:

    what do you think of using chicken stock?

  10. Dave B. says:

    This was a good recipie. I tweaked it slightly however. I decided to cook the chorizo a few minutes longer in the olive oil. I used slightly more chorizo then what the recipie called for. I also desided to leave some pieces of chorizo in the entire time the soup was cooking. When i was done mashing the potatoes i added all of the chorizo and the kale and boiled an additional 10 to 15 minutes to soften the kale. Lastly i added 1/4 cup of potato flakes to thicken the soup. This was my first time making the soup and it came out great!

    • David Leite says:

      Dave B., the great thing about recipes is they’re frameworks. And it seems as if you’ve built yourself quite a soup there. Congratulations!

  11. maria da luz says:

    My Portuguese Mom from Serra de Estrela, made Caldo Verde frequently. I make it still. It is a light, tasty, and nutritious dish. When we took her to a Portuguese restaurant on Cape Cod, she was appalled to find chorizo in the soup. She always made it without any meat, and we love it that way. As tasty as Portuguese chorizo is, we prefer it grilled, browned, or added to other dishes, Caldo Verde being the exception, however.

    • David Leite says:

      maria da luz, there are as many recipes for caldo verde as there are mothers! Historically, the soup has had one slice of chouriço per bowl. Just a little meaty coin of smokiness. What you most likely had in Cape Cod, where most of the Portuguese immigrants are from the Azores, is a more hearty version–sometimes even with beans–that’s popular in the island.

  12. samc says:

    Family loved the soup, my major change was subbing Cauliflower head for Potato as I do Paleo eating only. Also used baby kake package 5 oz. and Niman Ranch Chorizo. Served with some grated cheese on top. And with a green salad it provided a very filling veggie heavy meal, a change up from the normal meat or poultry fish meal.

    • David Leite says:

      samc, that sounds great! I love the idea of subbing cauliflower for the potato. I just may have to try it myself.

  13. Tara says:

    This was wonderful! Even my 1 yr old loved it. Such an amazing soup. I served with with fresh Broa.

  14. Dee says:

    Traditional caldo verde uses collard greens not kale … True they are similar but not the same , for traditional flavours use the collards instead.

    • David Leite says:

      Dee, thank for writing. Yes, caldo verde uses couve Galega, a collard green found in many part of Portugal, which is in the same cultivar group as kale–making them very similar. I think the confusion arises because couve Galega is often loosely translated as “Portuguese kale” or “Portuguese tree kale.” Plus, due to the high concentration of Portuguese immigrants in the Northeast, where kale is predominant, people call it “kale.” In any event, either green works beautifully in this soup.

  15. Thais says:

    I tried this recipe today and loved it. I switched the chorizo for Brazilian sausage that I had in the fridge and it turned out great. I also used collard greens and kale to make it extra nutritious!

  16. Lisa Skibenes says:

    I made this last night and it was delicious even though I could only locate fresh chorizo not the wonderful dried, smokey kind. I had a bunch of organic collard greens and really sliced them as thin as possible. So very good. Really simple and quick to make for something so amazing. I puréed everything and some sausage in my Blendtec but think I’ll invest in am immersion blender. I love my Blendtec but it’s super powerful and I’m thinking a little more texture might be preferable.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Lisa, I’m so happy like the recipe. It’s one of my absolute favorites. And I think that you’ll find you’ll have better texture with an immersion blender.

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