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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Broth)

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 1

I first heard of Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) from Rita of Pink Bites, who's Brazilian but because of colonialism, this soup has become popular far beyond its borders. She made it with lots and lots of collard greens. Since my youngest uncle grows them in his garden, and I have access to lots and lots of them for free, it was definitely a soup I wanted to try.

Especially since collard greens are high in vitamins A, C, and K. Huh! According to Wikipedia, 100 g/3.5 oz of collard greens supply 594% of your recommended daily vitamin K. Learn something new every day. Vitamin K is important in maintaining bone growth and density, so eat lots if you want to grow tall or stave off osteoporosis.

I do always feel like I'm extra healthy when I make this soup. It's like eating a bowl of chlorophyll.

Normally I stir-fry collard greens or I just have them in a simple broth Vietnamese-style, Canh Cai La Xanh (Vietnamese Collard Greens Soup). Caldo Verde differs with a potato-based broth, sometimes onions are added, and finished off with lots of olive oil and Portuguese sausage.

Since I haven't found any linguica, I've often substituted with Polish smoked sausage, or leave the meat out entirely and this soup is easily vegetarian. I've tried both mashing the potatoes in the soup and pureeing them, and prefer to dice the potatoes small and mash them so that the soup is more brothy and less like eating liquid mashed potatoes. Also, while I like olive oil as much as the next person, spooning extra olive oil on top is a bit too much for me, but if you want to be authentic, I leave that up to you. If you don't like collard greens, you can easily substitute with kale or Swiss chard, just as long as the overall result is green. After all, that is the key name of the soup.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 2

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)
Adapted from Rita of Pink Bites

For a 5-quart pot, you'll need:
2 tblsps olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 large onion, diced
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp salt
3 quarts water or chicken broth
1 lb collard greens or kale leaves, chiffonaded
2 linguica, chorizo, or kielbasa sausages, sliced

Dice the onion and potatoes and set aside.

In a 5-quart pot on medium-high heat, drizzle a generous 2 tblsps of olive oil and add the large diced onion. When the onion starts to soften, add the diced potatoes and 1 tsp salt. Stir to mix. Then add 3 quarts water or chicken broth. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 3

Meanwhile, wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the center thick stems. Then chiffonade the leaves by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them tightly, and slicing them as thin as you can. Then slice the leaves perpendicular so that you don't end up with super long strips.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 4

Wash the leaves again after slicing just to make sure they're clean and to diffuse some of the bitterness.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 5

Check on the soup and see if the potatoes are very soft. Season to taste. Take a potato masher or handheld blender and pulverize the pieces even more.

Just before you're ready to add in the collard greens, fry up the sliced sausages until crispy. Or leave them out entirely if you want to keep this soup vegetarian.

Then add the collard greens. How long you want to let the greens simmer is up to you. Some people only like them flash-cooked, some like them very soft. I like them in-between, so a few minutes of simmering will soften the hard parts but will retain the fresh greenness of the leaves.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 6

To prepare, ladle the soup into bowls, topped with a few fried sausages. Drizzle extra olive oil on top if you wish.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 7

If there's leftover soup, I like to add the fried sliced sausages into the pot. Then in reheating, the sausages flavor the soup even more, although the reheated cooked greens will lose some of their vibrancy.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) 8


Other green soups:
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Aguadito-ish Vegetable Soup with Cilantro Puree
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Canh Cai La Xanh (Vietnamese Collard Greens Soup)
Canh Rau Cuu Ky (Vietnamese (Chinese) Boxthorn Soup)
Stinging Nettle Soup

1 year ago today, Angel Face rose.
2 years ago today, Ca Bong Lau Nuong Mo Hanh (Vietnamese Roast Catfish with Scallion Oil).
3 years ago today, Tra Atiso (Vietnamese Artichoke Tea) and Roasted Artichokes with Chili Aioli.


  1. Yay, another new recipe to try. My parents are growing chard in their backyard and they just gave me a few bags full.

  2. I think I've come across a similar recipe before, though it wasn't pegged as Portugese. I loved it then, and I'll try your version soon with the garden kale.

    About your idea of an ao dai for that paper pattern -- yes, I agree. It's just the kind of thing for fabric.

  3. CC,
    Yup, Swiss chard will definitely work with this soup. You can stir-fry them too.

    I've got a zuppa toscana recipe coming up to use that kale. I wonder if it's a real soup or one made up by Olive Garden?

  4. Hey WC - The Missus couldn't get enough of Caldo Verde in Portugal....she's been bugging me to make it, but it just seems much too hot right now...plus, I gotta find good linguica......

  5. Kirk,
    I'm a weirdo because I love soup, especially if there's lots of greens so I don't mind eating this in hot weather. I have the same problem with finding linguica too. One of my readers sent me links to some online retailers, so you can try Gaspar's Sausage or Michael's Provision if you'd like.

  6. Excellent, easy recipe for such a simple, humble dish that belies its wonderful flavor (just made your recipe as part of an after-church luncheon). Friends of ours in Brazil say to add at least 2 cloves of garlic and 4 would be better depending on your love of garlic.
    I usually use 6 to 8 cloves per gallon of soup.


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