It seems to be kale and cocktail week here at the farm. (And we are OK with that, things could be worse.) Kale is in season, and after making a massaged kale salad, we decided to make a kale-based main dish, and we quickly settled on cooking up a pot of Caldo Verde. If you are going to have a kale recipe that will please a crowd, we suggest you take a look at making Caldo Verde. Caldo Verde, one of Portugal’s most popular dishes, is a soup of kale, potatoes and onions that often includes extra herbs, garlic, sausage and pork. This is a hearty soup that is easy to make and uses readily available ingredients. And if its cold outside, there are few things better than a big bowl of this soup.
Caldo Verde is also a versatile dish, you can start with a basic version of kale, potato, onion and linguica sausage (or spanish chorizo) and be ready in about an hour. But, if you want to add depth you can make a quick pork stock from ham hocks and add garlic, other herbs, etc. The only issue is time. But since we had some time, our recipe is based on making a ham hock-based stock, using the meat from the ham hocks and building the Caldo from the ham stock. We also add extra herbs to brighten the flavor. But if you don’t have the time, stick to the basic recipe and use salted water or low-sodium chicken stock as the base of your soup.
As for making the dish, if you can boil water and rough chop some ingredients, you can cook a fine batch of Caldo Verde. The only real trick in this recipe is that you use half of the potatoes as a thickener for the stock and add half later to have pieces of potato in the soup. You can mash the potatoes with an immersion blender, potato masher or even with the back of a wooden spoon, but don’t skip this step, the potatoes give extra flavor and silky texture to the soup. Otherwise this recipe is as simple, and as good, as it gets.
So how does Caldo Verde taste? It depends somewhat on the base you use for the soup, but you will get bright kale, rich potato, sweet onions and some spice from the linguica sausage. If you use a ham hock or shank for the soup base, it will be richer and smokier, while water or chicken stock will be a bit brighter flavored and lets the kale lead the dish. But there is one more thing, regardless of how you make your Caldo, it will be good the first day, but even better the second day. So make a big batch and enjoy this soup over a couple of days. You will be glad you did.