Caldo verde, a potato, sausage, and collard greens soup from northern Portugal, has a devoted following for a reason: it’s ridiculously simple to make and it’s delicious! The triumph of this one-pot wonder comes from its minimal, and simple, list of ingredients and it will immediately become your new favourite to make, especially on rainy or chilly nights.
Another soup, I know, but you’re going to want to know about this one. Plus, as I sit here typing away, the weather outside continues to look pretty bleak in Southwestern Ontario; rainy and chilly. In my home, this calls for warm, comforting bowls of soup on repeat. Caldo verde is the kind of soup that I absolutely love: simple, hearty, satisfying and healthy. I think you will love it too.
Inspiration for caldo verde soup
This caldo verde recipe came about when a dear friend (hi J!) posted a photo of it on her instagram story. She’s a fantastic cook that throws wonderful meals together so when she takes the time to post about something, raving how much she and her entire family loved it, I listen. She in turn heard of this recipe via her friend’s lifestyle blog, who in turn got the recipe from Serious Eats.
As I scanned the Serious Eats recipe, it looked delicious, of course, like almost every other reliable recipe on their site. However, no way was I diving in to recreate a Portuguese recipe without consulting one of my favourite Portuguese chefs, Paula Costa. Sure enough, her caldo verde looked fantastic and I like that she blended the soup, as most Portuguese do. And so it goes, that I of course ran to grab the very few simple ingredients required to make it, and gave it a try.
To be sure, caldo verde is not a stunner in the looks department. But I assure you, as I sopped up the last drop of this irresistibly complex soup with crusty bread, I had not enjoyed such a simple dinner this much in long a time.
What is Caldo Verde?
Caldo verde is a soup that originated from the Minho Province in northern Portugal. It is not only a traditional national favourite, but also loved in Brazil and other places that have a strong Portuguese community. Caldo verde is almost always served at all Portuguese celebrations, such as weddings, birthdays, and popular holidays.
One of the most beloved staples of Portuguese cuisine, caldo verde is a soup made up of humble and simple ingredients. Strips of dark leafy greens, such as kale or collard greens, give the soup a green tint — hence the name “caldo verde” which translates literally to “green broth”.
The broth consists of boiled garlic, onions, and potatoes that get an extra boost of flavour from simmering away with a chunk of portuguese chouriço. To serve, caldo verde is topped with a few more thin slices of the smoky-cured sausage and a drizzle of good olive oil. Broa, a Portuguese corn bread, is often served alongside caldo verde to make it a perfectly filling and satisfying meal.
Caldo verde ingredients
Remarkably, all you need to make this irresistibly complex soup, is 5 ingredients. Not counting olive oil, and salt and pepper, of course.
You will need:
- potatoes: Russet or Yukon gold potatoes are best for this soup. I prefer to use Russet potatoes which fall apart more while cooking and give the soup a silky-creamy texture.
- Portuguese chouriço: You can find this cured sausage and at any Portuguese market or some well-stocked supermarkets. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute with a smoked pork sausage such as a Spanish chorizo. However, do keep in mind that Spanish chorizo is stronger and tends to overpower this mild soup.
- Collard greens: Collard greens are best for making caldo verde which you can find at most large supermarkets. If you can’t find them, you can use kale or swiss chard. The greens need to be cut into thin strips, chiffonade-style, so they dissolve nicely into the soup.
Full disclosure: I admit I like to use chicken broth instead of water to make caldo verde. This soup, in its glorious original form, was created to accommodate a simple meal using very humble ingredients, like water as opposed to chicken broth. Nowadays, we have the convenience of store-bought broths and I always have them in my pantry. In my humble opinion, most soups taste better when made with broth, or a mix of water and broth, as opposed to just water. Having said that, I have tried caldo verde using exclusively water, and though I prefer it with chicken broth, the difference is not significant enough to warrant a trip to the grocery store. Use broth if you have it, otherwise go ahead and use only water.
How to make caldo verde
You will be delighted with how easy this one-pot, healthy, and life-giving soup is to prepare. As I previously mentioned, most recipes for authentic caldo verde will call for the soup to be blended and that is how I enjoy it. But if you prefer to leave it unblended, cut the potato pieces smaller. Alternatively, you could scoop out a few cupfuls of potatoes to blend, then place the blended mixture back in the pot.
Here is the step-by-step:
- Heat a large soup pot and sauté the choriço slices with a bit of olive oil, until lightly browned, about 1 minute a side. Remove the slices and set aside.
- Add a bit more olive oil, then add the onions and garlic sauté for just a few minutes. Add the potatoes, a small chunk of sausage, and water (or broth) to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 20-25 minutes, depending on how small you cut the potatoes. Remove the chunk of sausage and set aside to cool.
- While the soup simmers, chop 1 bunch of collard greens. I like to stack a few leaves, roll them up like a cigar, and slice them into thin strips.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Alternatively, use a blender and blend the soup in batches.
- Slice the chunk of choriço you removed, and place back in the pot with the blended potatoes. Add the collard greens to the pot and cook over medium for about 10 minutes until greens have completely softened.
- Serve the soup warm, topped with the reserved choriço slices and a generous drizzle of good olive oil.
The magic of this caldo verde lies in its simplicity. I would not try and reinvent the wheel by adding any other ingredients, though of course you are free to do so.
If you don’t eat pork, try and find a cured, garlicky, chicken or turkey based sausage.
Make it vegan: You can omit the sausage and add a teaspoon of smoked paprika for flavour. A plant-based sausage with smoky flavour, would also be great.
What to serve with caldo verde
This is a very hearty soup all on its own. A heel of chunky bread for dipping, will of course make it oh-so much more satisfying. I was elated, and somewhat shocked to find Broa at the farmer’s market to enjoy with our caldo verde. If you live near St. Jacobs, Ontario, I highly recommend you visit the Farmers Market and seek out the Portuguese bakery inside the white tent (sorry I didn’t get the name). It made the experience of this soup delightfully authentic.
We have also enjoyed it with this quick to throw together cornbread, so good!
Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)
- 8-12 ounces cured Portuguese choriço sausage or other cured, garlicky sausage such as Spanish chorizo
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided plus more for drizzling
- 1 large Spanish onion, or two yellow onions diced
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds Russet or Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 medium) peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (I use Russet)
- 8 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock (*see notes)
- 1 large bunch collard greens, or kale tough stems removed, leaves thinly cut into small strips
- Cut the sausage into 1/4 inch slices, leaving a 2-inch piece whole.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed, soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the choriço slices until lightly browned, about 1 minute a side. Remove the slices and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the onions and garlic and sauté until just starting to soften, but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, the 2-inch piece of sausage, and water (or broth) to the pot. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are very soft, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the chunk of sausage and set aside to cool.
- Using an immersion blender, or a blender, blend the soup until smooth (**see notes if you prefer to leave the soup unblended). Roughly chop the chunk of choriço and place back in the pot with the blended potatoes. Add the collard greens, or kale, to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until greens have completely softened. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper, if necessary. Note: Caldo verde can be a little bland if you don't add enough seasoning. Be sure to add enough salt until it tastes right to you.
- Serve the soup warm, topped with reserved choriço slices and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Enjoy with crusty bread, if desired.
- Leftovers keep well in the fridfge for up to 4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop over medium heat.
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