What is the recipe for Portuguese Caldo Verde Soup?

Caldo Verde Soup
Like all cultures of the world, the Portuguese people have their own distinctive culinary creations. From their own local environment, they collect such foodstuffs as codfish, squid, octopus, sardines, pork, eggs, olives, grapes, and garlic. Among the ingredients that they have imported from other parts of the world, the potato is one of the most popular used by the Portuguese cooks. Their Spanish neighbors brought this plant from the Peruvian Andes mountains about five hundred years ago, where the local Indians (as the natives of the American continents have been incorrectly called) have used this as one of their staples for ages, together with corn.

Using this newly discovered edible plant, the Portuguese were quick to invent special dishes of their own. One of these that has become traditional fare is Caldo Verde. The name can be translated as Green Cream Soup, because of its color and the creamy consistency (even thought the soup contains no dairy cream). There are many ways of preparing this nutritious and flavorful dish, because, up to a point, it can be adapted to what you have on hand. But the two essential ingredients never change. The first of these, which supplies the starch to thicken the soup, is the potato.

There are many varieties of potatoes in the world, so it pays to experiment with what can be obtained locally. The other principle component is a member of the cabbage family, called couve in Portuguese. There are several types of couve, but all are taller than cabbage and produce no heads, forming leaves along the stalks. They grow in hotter climates than the other types of cabbage, and in the tropics they produce leaves all year long. They also withstand colder climates than other cabbages, apparently being closer to wild cabbage than the other varieties, and thus generally hardier.

In English, both kale (also known as cole or borecole) and collard greens or collards (a vulgarization of the old name colewart) are types of couve, as well as what some call spring greens. The best leaves are the lighter green in color, and of medium size, which are more tender than the larger leaves, though even these can be included in the soups. As in the case of potatoes, it pays to find the varieties that grow locally, and experiment to get the flavor which is most pleasing.

The preparation of the green leaves usually begins with the removal of the central stalk, which is slightly harder to digest as it contains more fibers. One method is to lay each leaf on a cutting board, then pass a knife along either side of the stalk, removing this and piling up the halved leaves. Some people leave the stalks on, to increase the fiber in their diets. With or without the stalks, the next step is to roll a handful of leaves into a cigar-shaped tube, beginning with one side of the leaves, rolling over the center where the stalk is located, and finishing with the other side. Then slice them as finely as possible, beginning with the point of the rolled leaf and cutting across the grain. This produces long, noodle-like slices of the greens. Soak 250 grams of the sliced leaves in cold water for ten minutes, then set them aside.

One traditional recipe for Caldo Verde continues by cooking one kilogram of the peeled potatoes (How to peel potatoes fast), diced into cubes to cook faster, in one and a half liters of boiling water with one peeled onion cut into four quarters, one peeled clove of garlic cut in half, 75 ml of olive oil, and half a tablespoon of salt. The salt can be reduced if diet requires this. After the potatoes are tender, allow this mix to cool. Then mash all together, or blend in the liquidizer (How to use a liquidiser youtube), together with the water, until smooth and creamy. Return this liquid to the pan, and warm it again over medium heat.

Add twelve thin slices of sausage, or a dozen small cubes of bacon (again, if your diet permits), and another 75 ml of olive oil (Olive Oil:Amazon). When the mix begins to thicken, turn up the heat and add the sliced leaves. When these greens are cooked, in just a few minutes, add more salt if needed and serve hot. Caldo Verde should be eaten within ten minutes of being cooked. It can be accompanied by more sausage, either grilled, fried or boiled, and corn bread.

Another variation is to boil the cubed potatoes in water with salt, while frying the onion, garlic and bacon or sausage in olive oil, separate from the potatoes. In this case, the onions, garlic and pork should be cut into much smaller pieces first. Add the sliced greens to the frying mix once the meat has cooked, continuing to cook for a minute or two before removing from the fire. When the potato cubes have cooked, mash them or blend them in the liquidizer, together with the water in which they were cooked. Return the potato cream to the pan, add the fried ingredients, and heat again for a few minutes. Add a little salt and red pepper or hot sauce to taste.

For a lighter version, substitute canola oil for olive oil in the frying pan, and a diced chicken breast (precooked) for the pork meat, or leave out the meat and go vegetarian. Season with a little olive oil on each individual dish. There's nothing like a delicious Portuguese Caldo Verde soup to warm up a cold night.

Watch this wonderful video on how to prepare the Caldo Verde Soup

Written By : David Michael (Terespolis, Brazil)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice