Caldo Verde

One of the things that surprised me last year with my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box of veggies was the plethora of deep green leafy vegetables in the late fall. Now I know that these nutritiously dense vegetables love a little bit of cold! But how to cook them?!

Kale is easy - I've only discovered one way that I love kale: kale chips. Easy and delicious. 

Other greens like mustard greens, collards, and escarole are trickier. They don't taste fantastic raw, and I'm not a big fan of just a pile of steamed greens. Soups and smoothies tend to be the next obvious choice. I did end up trying a Warm Wintergreen Salad that ended up being not bad. I would make it again with some tweaks. 

I just lightly sautéed radicchio and escarole for about 7 minutes. Then I added capers, kalamata olives, currents, and red pepper flakes. For a dressing, I drizzled the juice of one lemon and a little bit of olive oil. I finished it off with some orange zest and toasted almonds. While it was good, it was too tangy. The olives, capers and lemon juice were all too tart. The next time I will reduce the lemon juice and drizzle some honey over the entire salad. 

One new deep leafy green I got in my box recently was Portuguese Kale. It actually looks and acts more like cabbage than kale. The overwhelmingly most popular dish to make with this unique vegetable is Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup). Caldo Verde is the unofficial national dish of Portugal. It is a light soup that is served at celebrations and family gatherings. 

Basically, Caldo Verde is a wonderfully delicious potato broth with strips of green kale and sausage. I, of course, made some alterations to the traditional soup. :)

The potato broth is made by sautéing onions and garlic until soft and then adding the kale ribs and potatoes with a couple cups of vegetable broth. Once the veggies are soft, puree until super smooth and thick. Yum! This alone is delicious. I just love this technique of making a thick broth and then adding a few chunks of veggies and protein afterwards. I'm going to have to experiment with this more!

So, traditionally chorizo, or a spicy sausage, is used in the soup. Not for me. I used Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage, which is wheat gluten. This was my folly. I love Field Roast. But using four spicy sausage links ended up with a soup that was too spicy for my taste buds. My husband gobbled it up though! Next time, I'll use 1 spicy sausage link and 2 Italian sausage links instead. 

Check out these crazy fingerling potatoes I picked up! Not all of them had this coloring, but many did. So pretty!

Caldo Verde warms up well and I found it to be pretty hardy with the addition of the faux-sausage. You could leave out the sausage too if you'd like. Red beans would also be a good protein addition. If you can't find Portuguese kale, you can substitute cabbage or collards and still get a fantastic and nutritiously rich soup.

Caldo Verde
6 servings, 75 minutes

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek, diced (or just use 1 large onion)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup Portuguese kale ribs, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
6 medium potatoes, peeled and large diced
8 cups water + 3 Rapunzel Vegan No Salt bouillon cubes (or your favorite broth)
2 Field Roast Italian Faux-Sausage links
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Faux-Sausage link
4 cups Portuguese Kale leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Head the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leek and garlic. Cook until soft. Stir in the kale ribs and cook for another 5 minutes or so, just to soften the ribs a little.
  2. Add the potatoes, water, and bouillon cubes to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes and ribs are soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You can also use a blender/food processor to do this, just work in small batches and be really careful: the hot soup likes to splatter all over.
  4. Return the soup to medium heat and stir in the crumbled faux-sausage links and the kale leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are bright green and tender (Field Roast faux-sausage is pre-cooked). Adjust the seasoning to your liking and serve warm.
Print this recipe. Adapted from Harmony Valley November 3, 2011 Twin Cities Newsletter