When Fred (my husband) and I were first dating, he mentioned something called Caldo Verde. (Note that in Portuguese, which is his native language, the -de sounds like -gee.) I had no clue what he was talking about. Then he described it to me. Still nothing. After we got married, he made it once or twice, but did I ever try it? NO. It had that leafy green stuff in it. And that meant it might have some health benefit to it. Ugh. No way was I trying that soup.
At a restaurant a few years ago, I was too embarrassed not to eat the braised kale on my plate. So I gave it a try. (Have I told this story already? I probably have. Stay with me though, it was a life changing dinner.) The braised kale was incredible. I couldn’t believe I was eating KALE. A leafy green veggie. One of THE healthiest veggies in the world. And I was liking it. Loving it actually.
After that fateful day, I started eating kale on a regular (sometimes daily) basis. I even planted some in my garden last year which meant Caldo Verde several times a week for lunch. Think that’s too much of a good thing? Well, maybe you haven’t tried it. It’s a magical soup in that it is so simple, but tastes SO good.
I’ve made this several times for friends and the recipe is always, always, always requested. This stuff is peasant food at its inexpensive, wholesome, filling best–simple and absolutely delicious. Another great bonus: My kids LOVE this soup and even request it. Yeah, take that chicken nuggets!
Sometimes if we have it on hand, we’ll cook up some kielbasa sausage to it and serve it on the side for those who want it.
Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
from my husband
a few tablespoons olive oil, divided, for sauteing and drizzling
1 small onion, diced
1 quart homemade vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled if desired, and cut into chunks
1 bunch kale, washed well and roughly chopped (can use collards, chard, broccoli leaves, or cabbage)
Heat a little of the oil in a medium (3 qt.) pot. Add the onion and cook until it starts to brown and soften. Add the stock and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender. (We like the potatoes to be almost falling apart tender.) Add the kale at the last minute and cook until just barely tender. (Or longer if you like the greens more tender.)
Add cooked kieibasa
Add cooked white or black beans
Use sweet potatoes instead of russet
Add other veggies–carrots, celery, etc.
Add a can of diced tomatoes
The very best adaptation I made (pre-vegan) was to add leftover shredded chicken, homemade chicken broth, and tomatoes. BEST SOUP EVER.