This Portuguese soup, also known as green soup or caldo verde, is a traditional soup made with potatoes, chouriço sausage, and thinly sliced collard greens or kale. Hearty, homey, cheap, and comforting as heck.
Inspired from a recipe by John Villa
Caldo Verde FAQs
What does caldo verde mean in English?
The literal translation is “green broth,” but it’s often called green soup. But what’s most important is, as my friend and Portuguese cookbook author Ana Patuleia Ortins says, “Caldo verde is caldo verde is caldo verde.” It’s a specific, codified recipe that contains, water or stock, potatoes, kale, onion, garlic, and chouriço. That’s it!
Where did caldo verde originate?
It comes from the coastal Minho region, in the north of Portugal.
Is caldo verde really considered the national dish of Portugal?
Basically, yes. It’s looked upon by most as the unofficial national dish of the country. It’s served through the entire country–from high-end restaurants to simple home kitchens.
What kind of greens do cooks in Portugal use in this soup?
The customary greens are couve Galega (Gallician kale, which comes from Galicia, Spain). It has broad dark-green leaves and thick, fibrous white stems. It’s related to other common vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli. Unlike collards or kale in America, which are low-growing plants, Portuguese kale or collard greens grow on thick stalks to immense heights. While traveling through the Minho, I saw men standing on six-foot ladders to harvest the leaves, hence one of its many nicknames: “Portuguese walking stick cabbage.”
Can I make caldo verde vegetarian?
Absolutely. Just omit the sausage and use water instead of stock and you’re as good as gold.
Caldo Verde ~ Portuguese Green Soup
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces chouriço, linguiça, or Spanish chorizo sliced into 1/4-inch (6-mm) 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 roughly chopped (I prefer Yukon Gold, as they as similar to Portugal's yellow potatoes)
- 8 cups cold water or half homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth, and half water
- 1 pound collard greens or kale stems removed, leaves cut into very, very thin slices
- Freshly ground black or white pepper
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chouriço and cook until lightly browned on both sides, 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.
- Dump the onions into the pot. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the potatoes, add the water or combination of water and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the soup gently simmers. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the soup cool slightly.
- When the caldo verde has cooled a little, purée it using an immersion blender. (Tradition states that one slice and only one slice of chouriço is added to each bowl although some chefs like to add half the sausage to the soup before puréeing. It’s your choice.)
- Add the kale to the soup, bring everything back to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper.
- Ladle the caldo verde into bowls and garnish with the remaining slices of chouriço. (The soup can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Simply warm over low heat before serving.)
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Kale soup? Caldo Verde? Green Soup? Call it what you will, this soup is hearty and homey and ready in under an hour! In spite of using a very sharp knife and my best kitchen skills, I didn’t achieve the thin kale shreds the recipe called for, so the final result wasn’t quite as elegant as the photo shows, but that didn’t detract from the flavor of the final result.
I used a mild chorizo sausage, Yukon gold potatoes (which I didn’t peel as the skins were paper thin), curly kale, and homemade chicken stock. I did add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes at the end of cooking, but I would hold off on the final seasoning until you determine how much heat and salt your sausage is adding to the mix.
Served with a salad and grilled cheese sandwiches, this made a great casual supper.
I added 1/2 the chorizo back to the soup before blending and didn’t overprocess the mixture using an immersion blender. Coming across the slices of sausage and a few stray cubes of potatoes are nice little surprises.
This was fantastic. But I think much depends on the quality of your chorizo and stock. I’ve made it before using polish sausage or keilbasa and boxed stock and it was good but not a 10.
This caldo verde/green soup was delicious and pretty nutritious! It warmed our bellies well. My kids are good eaters and they loved this recipe as well.
Despite my efforts, my store only sold chorizo in a roll without casing, loose. Unable to cut it into medallions, I browned the chorizo loose in step 1 for 5 minutes. I was able to remove it with a slotted spoon reserving fat in the pot. Then I added all of it into the soup before puréeing it with my immersion blender until velvety smooth.
I didn’t cool the soup overnight, but I can see how the flavors would continue to meld. This recipe was fairly simple to prepare, with accessible ingredients (aside from the chorizo in casing) and a combination of flavors that was a new experience. This soup is filling.
It even paved the way for a fun food discussion about Portugal and native ingredients. I love that you gave Portugal credit in the recipe title. This is, as my kids would say, “a definite do again!”
Simple yet satisfying and budget-friendly! I’m not going to lie. When I first saw this Portuguese kale soup recipe, I was expecting it to be boring and lacking in flavor, but that was surprisingly not the case. This soup, while not boasting many ingredients or, for that matter, many herbs, was pleasantly satisfying even if simple in flavor.
I chose to blend some of the chorizo into the soup to enhance the flavor and I think that was a good choice. I used a Spanish chorizo and the complexity of its flavor really gave the soup that certain something that would have been missing without it. My husband also really enjoyed it and his favorite part is that it tastes thick and rich without added cream or dairy.
I also thought the kale really enhanced the overall experience. Even though the kale was heated and wilted in the soup, it still retained some bite or toothsomeness that was a nice bit of texture in the creamy soup. This soup would be delicious on a cool fall or winter day and is a very budget-friendly recipe to boot!
In the future, I would consider adding some other flavor enhancers, such as smoked sweet paprika, to change the flavor a bit. I would also consider serving it with a garlicky, cheesy crostini!
I cooled the soup until the next day and it was great. The soup got thicker when cooled.
Originally published January 10, 2001
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This is a hearty, satisfying, and filling soup. It’s one of the best soups I’ve tasted, bursting with flavor and depth. Delicious.
I prepared the full amount of greens as instructed but when I went to add it, I stopped at about halfway. If i had added it all, it would have been more of a “kale with a chorizo sauce” kind of scenario. As it was, using half, was just right. Delicious soup packed with kale. But still a soup.
I used Cavolo Nero and initially added 1/4 teaspoon of salt because I wasn’t sure how salty the chorizo would taste. I tasted again after I had added the chorizo and added more salt. In total, I added 3/4 tsp Maldon salt.
I cooled the soup, refrigerated it overnight, and had it the next day for lunch. It was so much better than the day before. The addition of the blended chorizo and letting it rest overnight really did make this into something quite special. Next day, the whole chorizo was still whole and firm but slightly softened by the soup. It added more texture, which was very enjoyable.
There was just me eating this and one bowl was enough for lunch. I have put the rest into individual Tupperware and am freezing it. That’s another 7 portions so a total of 8 servings.