Caldo Verde | Portuguese Kale Soup

Caldo Verde

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

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


  • 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


  • 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 Testers Reviews


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  1. A wonderful supper for a cool fall or winter day (especially with some broa or other good bread). It seems to me that collard greens are the closest to the couve tronchuda or Beira that was always used when I have had it in in Portugal. I always use collards when I can get them here in the northeast US. I like linguiça for the sausage.

    1. J., I agree with you: This is an excellent cool-weather dish. I, too, find collards to be the closest to the couve Gallega, which is what they use in Portugal.

      1. I just found your site today looking for a recipe for Pastel de Natas (You have a great one). Every thing looks great here, I’m going to have to try a lot of them. Thanks

  2. Upon close inspection of whatever ingredients I might have in my fridge to make a pot of soup for the week, I found the trio of sausage, potatoes, and kale. Aha! Portugese Caldo Verde could be whipped up with these ingredients. Of course I went to Leite’s Culinaria to find a proper recipe!

    Although the recipe called for the cured variety of linguica, or Spanish chorizo, what I had were two links of Italian sausage and one link of raw Spanish chorizo. I was pretty sure that David wouldn’t mind if I improvised with this plan.

    Other than that, I hewed to the recipe as stated, making sure to finely chiffonade my kale, the most painstaking part of this process.I let my kale simmer in the soup for awhile, as I like the velvety texture, and for this reason I’d have to put this soup into the “ugly delicious” category. Which means, yes it was delicious, and I’ll make it again!

  3. We ate this multiple times during our trip throughout Portugal. Of course, nothing compares to Portuguese sausages/cured meats, but the Spanish chorizo worked well to bring back memories of my favorite Caldo Verde of our trip, from Petisqueira Volatia in Porto. I ended up using all homemade chicken stock (by accident) with collards, as my Giant was all out of kale. Fabulous soup that was perfect for single digit weather.

    A bowl of Portuguese soup called caldo verde--with puree potato, kale, and a slice of chouriço sausage

  4. Spanish Onion? LOL! We Portuguese people use just regular onion, and we never say “Spanish onion” in our country. Yeah, Americana love to say that because it’s in Mexico. ::grin:: America is Spanish, obviously. *rolling eyes*

    1. azoreseuropa, ha! I chose to use the term “Spanish onion,” because here in the U.S., we have a lot of other kinds of onions–red, yellow, white, sweet, Vidalia, pearl, plus many more. Saying “Spanish onion” telegraphs to cooks to use a large onion that is mild but flavorful.

  5. Loved this soup – reminded me of holidays in Lourenco Marques, when I was a child! That delicious combination of potato and olive oil is very reminiscent. Personally, I prefer to cook the chorizo separately, and drain off the oil – so that the chorizo oil does not overpower the flavours of the potato soup, and of the olive oil. Also prefer brown onions, as I prefer the flavour in cooking (but red onions good in salads, of course). We grow kale in our garden (living in France). I am not crazy about kale – a bit like eating grass! However, it is perfect in caldo verde (I seem to recall that we had a special type of Portuguese cabbage, when I was younger).

  6. I have had several different interpretations of caldo Verde during the month I spent in Portugal, mostly in the Algarve and the Lisbon vicinity. I did not eat in fancy restaurants, but went to smaller mom and pop places recommended by locals. Sometimes it was very brothy, no onions and a little bit of sausage, and sometimes thick and stewy. Always, though, the greens (not quite like our kale) were shredded very thinly, the soup was not pureed, and it was always delicious. I usually make mine with chard sliced very thin, but I do mash the potatoes to thicken.

    1. Bernice, yes, there are as many takes on caldo verde as there are cooks. The kale they use is called Galician cabbage, or tree cabbage. When I was in the north of Portugal, where caldo verde originated, I saw this in gardens everywhere.

      Galician Kale

  7. After trying this for the first time a few weeks ago in a wobderful little Fado bar in Lisboa, i fell truely in love. I have to say that if you can get hold of proper Portuguese Chouriço especially made from Porco Preto it is simply divine. Thank you for a great recipe!

  8. I love this soup. Just like my grandmother from Madeira used to make. She would cut all the potatoes except one into quarters. The other she would leave whole. Once the soup was cooked, she would mash the one potato and put it back in the soup. Then you’d get a thickened soup which still has the potato and chourico chunks. I love Gaspars chourico. Thanks again.

  9. Just reading this recipe brought back so many memories! I grew up in California, but my parents are from New Bedford. My mother’s family is from the Azores, and my Father from Madeira. Differnt styles, but the same on my heart. Can’t wait to try it!

  10. Ok – I’m from the South and grow collard greens. What about the puree part – I’d like to make this the traditional way the Portuguese did two hundred years ago because I’m a purist. How would the Portuguese have made this long ago? Would they have mashed the potatoes by hand? Also, I don’t know where to get this sausage listed in the recipe – do they sell it in the South?

    1. Richard, two hundred years ago and without electric, yes, they would have mashed the potatoes by hand. I don’t know where in the South to get the sausage, but you can order it from Lopes Sausage company in Newark, NJ. (973) 344-3063.

    2. So, not traditional, but I don’t puree it. I dice some of the potatoes small, and some into hearty bite sized chunks. You get a good balance of broth and creaminess. Now, you can find linguica anywhere. Not quite the same as chourico, but a pinch of added smoked paprika will add a little bit more of that delicious flavor. I hope we all know that for every Portuguese Grandmother there is a different recipe. That’s the beauty of these old recipe…make it yours and have fun with it.

  11. Do you have any tips for slicing the kale really thin? I find after I’ve sliced it off the stalks I have a total mess. I’m using curly kale so there’s just no way to stack it and roll it into a cigar like recipes always suggest. My mother saw, either in Portugal or Brazil (I can’t remember), a contraption in the market that sliced your kale or collards and you walked away with a bag of perfectly sliced kale. I’m so jealous! I would make this all the time if I didn’t have to wrestle with a mess of kale.

    1. Liz, yes, those contraptions are neat. Using flat leaf kale is easier, but if you can’t get it, what I do is remove the stalk and lay one half on top of the other. Then I go at it with a knife. Easy!

  12. I made this tonight following Chef Villa’s instructions to blend half of the chourço. Fantastic! Exactly what we needed to offset this gloomy day. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and life’s journey with us. You’re a treasure, David.

  13. My family loved this recipe. We had lots of kale in the garden and some of our family thought it had too strong a taste. However in the soup it was delicious. Thanks for having this recipe. Served with a crusty sourdough bread makes for a very nice meal on cold winter nights.

  14. Just like my avó used to make! With traditional table bread, my own little piece of heaven. Thank you for the amazing recipe.

  15. I also live in MA, mostly Cape Cod, but have spent lots of my life in Fall River, New Bedford. Wonderful caldo verde in New Bedford, that I was able to replicate til I became a vegetarian 20 yrs ago. Gave up trying to make this soup after failing with just veg (bland), then faux chourizo (yuck, chemically tasting). Saw here someone mentioned can be done, though. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

    1. Staza, well, I’ve not tried it before, but I think you’d need a very, very rich vegetable stock. Also, I’d make sure the onions were nicely caramelized. That will give layers of flavor to the soup. A bit of smoked paprika will mimic the smoky chouriço.

  16. I have used spinach, before and it’s good too. Such a comfort soup for the cold weather, oh, with a nice piece of bread.

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

  18. 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!

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

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

    1. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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… :-)

    1. 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.

  24. 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.

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

    1. 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

    1. 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!

  26. 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.

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  28. 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.


    1. 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.

  29. 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!

        1. 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.

          1. I didn’t puree any of it; I’ll try that next time. Mostly the recipe mirrored my own, but I pressure cooked it so timing and ingredient succession was altered. It was very much like my grandma from Pico, Azores made it.

    1. 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!!!

      1. 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!

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