Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde is one of the essential tastes of Portugal. Anybody who thinks good food has to be difficult to make should try this most basic of soups which-despite its absolute simplicity - is delicious and is another of those comforting dishes to warm the heart.

The quantities given make a lot of soup and - with good bread - it can make a substantial main course in its own right It also keeps well and is just as nice, if not better, reheated. The soup is also delicious without any sausage, if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 225g/8oz chorizo sausage or zampone
  • 450g/1 lb spring greens or Savoy cabbage
  • 1.5 litres/21/2 pt light chicken broth or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves (optional), to serve

Utensils

  • large pot
  • potato masher or whisk

Method

Mise en Place

Peel the potatoes and, if they are large, cut them into smallish pieces • Peel and coarsely chop the garlic • Cut the sausage across into 5mm/¼in slices • Pull away the outer leaves from the greens or cabbage. Destalk and shred the leaves as finely as you can. The best way to do this is to roll the leaves into tubes as if making a cigar, then cut these across. In Lisbon the soup is so much a part of everyday life that market stalls sell big plastic bags of ready-shredded cabbage. There is also a hand-turned machine like a giant pencil sharpener you can buy to do the job for you.

Cooking

Put the potatoes and garlic into the pot with the stock or water and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer for 15 minutes and then season.

Mash in the pot to a fairly smooth purée. Add the slices of sausage and the shredded cabbage and simmer for about 5 minutes, until warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serving

Ladle into large warmed soup bowls. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in circles on top of each serving. If using coriander, tear a few leaves and scatter over each portion before serving or pass separately at the table.

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