Caldo Verde
(Portuguese Green Soup)

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato & Cabbage Soup)

Most Portuguese meals, especially dinner, start with soup; many are thick and hearty, using whatever produce is on hand. Caldo verde, meaning literally green broth, is one of the most popular. It’s traditionally made with a local dark green cabbage called galega, closely related to kale which is a good substitute. When it’s in season, I make it with cime di rapa (turnip tops) another member of the cabbage family. Whatever greens you use, it’s important to slice them as finely as possible then just blanch them in the soup, taking care not to overcook them … it’s said they should look like grass. Although a few slices of fermented chouriço are traditionally placed in the bowl, you can make a delicious vegetarian version by flavouring a little olive oil with smoked paprika and garlic (typical chorizo spices) to pour over the soup. If using chorizo, I prefer a fresh unfermented one from La Boqueria that I briefly fry first so its oil adds to the flavour. Cornbread is the traditional accompaniment, and at Sweet Belem in Petersham Jose Silva bakes his grandmother’s version using a mixture of rye, wheat, white and yellow corn flours.

Serves 2 as a starter

Ingredients
  • 400g floury potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt flakes, to taste
  • ½ bunch cime di rapa or kale
  • Cornbread, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 smoked chorizo, thinly sliced
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel and dice potatoes, and place in a saucepan with the water and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  3. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the leaves off the cime di rapa stems, discarding the stems or reserving them for another dish.
  5. In several batches, roll the largest leaves around some of the others to form a tight bundle then slice very finely (this is called a chiffonade); set aside.
  6. Place cornbread in the oven to warm through.
  7. Remove saucepan from the heat and use a stick blender to blend potato and cooking liquid until just smooth; don’t over blend it, better to have a few small pieces of potato left.
  8. Stir in the cime di rapa leaves, return to the boil, cover, remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil then chouriço and cook for a minute or 2 each side until well coloured.
  10. Divide chouriço between warmed soup bowls.
  11. Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.
  12. Ladle soup into the bowls, drizzle with oil from the frying pan, and a little extra olive oil, and serve with cornbread.

Like this recipe? You’ll love A Month of Portuguese Inspired by Jose Silva!

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