A hearty soup for a dull January evening – Caldo Verde

caldo verde

Happy 2014.

As usual the Sunday supplements and glossy magazines are full of diet tips for the New Year but I’m a firm believer in NOT dieting in January. The cold weather, dark nights and lack of parties just makes it far too cruel – better to wait until spring I say (if ever). I am however trying to eat a little bit more healthily than over the Christmas period, which considering the rubbish I ate isn’t particularly hard. We also spent a few days after New Year in Scarborough eating lots of wonderfully unhealthy seaside fare (fish and chips, ice cream sundaes, bags of fresh-from-the-oil donuts) so some hearty, wholesome food for January is definitely in order.

We’ve been making Caldo Verde – a Portuguese soup – for quite a few years now but rather infrequently. Every time I eat it I bang on about how nice it is considering its humble ingredients and ask why I don’t make it more often. It’s super easy and you’d think that using water instead of stock would make it rather bland but it’s actually very, very tasty. If you think soup on its own isn’t a proper meal then you could add a large chunk of bread on the side, but even my bread monster husband doesn’t see this as necessary. This dish is also very economical which is good if you spent a bit too much on Christmas.

Caldo Verde

Serves 2 as a main course

  • 80g of chorizo
  • 4 medium potatoes (approximately 400g peeled weight), diced into 1cm pieces
  • 160g kale (unprepared weight)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ½ an onion
  • 1 litre of cold water
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion, garlic and chorizo for a couple of minutes, until they begin to colour.

Add the water and potatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer until the potatoes are soft (between 5 and 10 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking prepare the kale. Wash well and remove the coarse white stem running up the centre of the leaf. Then slice the leaves as thinly as possible. I find the easiest way to do this is to take several leaves at once, place them on top of each other and roll to form a rough cigar shape, then chop with a very sharp, large knife.

Once the potatoes are cooked, remove the pan from the hob and using a potato masher mash the potatoes into the soup so that they break up. I like to leave some bits fairly big.

Season with about ½ teaspoon of salt and about 10 twists of the pepper mill (or to your preferred taste), then add the kale and return to the hob.

Continue to simmer until the kale has softened, this will only take a couple of minutes. Check the seasoning and then ladle into large bowls.

I like to drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil mixed with ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika over the top of each serving for an extra punch but if you’re being healthy you could leave this part out.


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