Caldo verde, which means ‘green broth’, is arguably the national dish of Portugal. This simple but delicious soup of diced potatoes and finely shredded cabbage is enriched with olive oil and the addition of slices of chouriço, a strong-flavoured, salty pork-and-garlic sausage that is called chorizo in Spain.
The soup is actually quite delicious without the addition of the sausage, in which case
Use a strong-flavoured long-leaved brassica like curly kale or spring greens rather than a hard round cabbage, and slice the leaves as finely as grass. The Portuguese themselves traditionally use kale, or a good Savoy cabbage does just as well.
In Portugal the bread served with the soup would be of maize, broa de Milho, and dishes of tasty small black olives would be put on the table to go with it.
In Portugal, you can actually buy a special piece of kit for shredding the greens, but an ordinary kitchen knife does the job perfectly well. Cut out the stem from each leaf and roll the leaves together like a cigar, then cut these across again into the thinnest strips you can manage.
Add the shredded cabbage and slices of chouriço. Return the soup to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for a few minutes barely to cook the cabbage and just heat the slices of sausage through.
Serve the soup in warmed soup bowls, scattered with a few whole leaves of flat-leaved parsley and grind over some coarse black pepper. Offer more olive oil at the table and serve a nice sourdough bread to accompany this simple feast.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.