If you love soup (and who doesn’t?), you’ll love Portugal.
The heavenly smell will likely hit your nose before you even spot the pot bubbling on the stove. A common sight in countless Portuguese kitchens, soup is a comforting and easy dish that many people simply whip up with whatever they have on hand.
But a few soup recipes are so timeless that they’ve become staples of national cuisine. And this Portuguese kale soup recipe, also known as caldo verde, is one of them.
What is caldo verde?
Caldo verde literally means “green broth.” It gets its color from the leafy greens, which in Portugal are usually couve galega, or collard greens. However, kale is also a perfectly acceptable substitute.
Whichever leafy green you use, the important thing is that you chop it up into long, thin strands before cooking. This allows it to perfectly complement the other flavors in the soup without overpowering them.
But what are the other flavors, anyway? In addition to the greens, caldo verde is packed full of veggies and chouriço, one of the most popular kinds of Portuguese sausage. The chouriço is important as it gives a nice pop of color and a smoky touch to the soup, so be sure you’re using a high-quality one!
Last but not least, here in Portugal, we’re big on using bread to soak up every last drop of soupy goodness. Serve your caldo verde with plenty of broa (a sort of Portuguese corn bread) or any other rustic bread to get the full experience.
Maura’s caldo verde
This Portuguese kale soup recipe comes to us by way of Melissa, our operations manager here at Devour Lisbon. Melissa got it from her friend Maura, who makes it regularly at 33 Hostel in Ferrel, Portugal, just up the coast from Lisbon.
Here’s Melissa sharing what makes this soup such a special part of Portuguese cuisine, and how and when locals enjoy it.
Portuguese kale soup recipe (caldo verde)
- 500 grams (1 lb) potatoes
- 500 grams (1 lb) yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 large carrot
- 1 piece of Portuguese chouriço (about 4 inches/10 cm long)
- 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) kale or collard greens
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Broa (Portuguese corn bread) or other bread, to serve
Note: These quantities are approximate and can easily be adjusted. Just be sure that you have the same amount of both potatoes and onion, a slightly thick but still soupy consistency, and enough salt to highlight the flavors. The beauty of any Portuguese kale soup recipe lies in how each chef personalizes it to their own taste, so go ahead and experiment!
- Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, peel and chop the potatoes, onions, garlic and carrot.
- Add the vegetables and a pinch of salt to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium low.
- Cut the chouriço in half and add to the pot with the vegetables. Reserve the rest.
- Boil the soup about 15–20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and fully cooked.
- While the veggies are cooking, wash the kale and finely chop into long, thin strands.
- When the vegetables are fully cooked, blend the soup (including the chouriço) until uniform with a smooth consistency.
- Heat the blended broth over low heat. Add salt and olive oil to taste, then stir in the kale.
- Simmer 5–10 minutes or until the kale is cooked through.
- Remove the soup from the heat. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. This helps the kale to separate instead of clumping together.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with thin slices of the remaining chouriço and serve with bread.