Caldo Verde

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been unemployed since getting back from Iraq.

It’s hardly tragic. In fact, the majority of the time, I quite enjoy not having a job. My apartment has never been cleaner and I have all day to do silly things like make several batches of homemade pasta and lovingly craft teeny little raviolis for Farrell (who still has a job…no I’m not bitter).

But recently I got caught in a bit of a funk. One day I managed to watch an entire season of “The Office” on Netflix (that “watch instantly” feature is deadly when it comes to getting things done) and…well, that was it for the day. Farrell came home from a long day at his (real) office, we scrounged around our kitchen for some sort of meal to make, and I bemoaned the lack of potential sitting in my fridge.

We settled for leftovers. We had a mediocre dinner and watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 before going to bed.


The next day I woke up and reconsidered things. I made a particularly tasty cup of coffee for myself, set some general short and long-term goals and tackled my day. I could tell my weird unemployment funk was lifted when I looked in my fridge and was instantly inspired for dinner.

Let’s see, I just bought some kale the other day…here’s some chorizo that I defrosted… Do I really want to make empanadas again?…hmm, I have these potatoes that need to get used up too.

A quick search on Foodgawker reminded me of caldo verde, a hearty Portuguese soup that Anthony Bourdain discusses at length in his book Kitchen Confidential. Some of his earliest culinary experiences incorporated the simple pleasures of this soup and other Portuguese-based dishes in a small northeast vacation town. I can’t really give this dish the justice it deserves after reading Bourdain’s description, but believe me, it’s really good.

There are a lot of recipes out there for caldo verde. The basic premise is brown the chorizo, remove the chorizo, soften the onions, add potatoes and lots of water, cook potatoes, add chorizo back and some chopped kale. Simmer, season, consume. Some people blend the potatoes to make a thicker texture, which can be good if you’re in to that (and if you have an immersion blender). It’s just as good with chunks of potatoes, in my opinion, and it also tastes fantastic on the next day.

After that? I wouldn’t know…it was already done by then.

– Caldo Verde – an Ivory Pomegranate recipe
4 links of chorizo
2 medium white onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 medium potatoes, cubed
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of kale, washed and sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
lots of grinds of pepper (I don’t have a more accurate measurement of this, I lost count of how many grinds it took to season the whole batch)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

– Remove casing from chorizo and crumble, or slice links into manageable pieces. Brown in a large stock pot over medium heat. Remove and set aside. Add onions and garlic to pot; cook in rendered chorizo fat until soft.
– Add potato cubes and stir for about thirty seconds. Add water, bay leaves, salt and pepper; simmer until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes on medium low heat). *Note: You can add more potatoes, I just only had three on hand. This soup could definitely handle extra.
– Add kale and reintroduce chorizo. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until kale is cooked to your desired doneness. Taste broth and adjust seasoning accordingly. Add red pepper flakes (if desired), remove bay leaves and serve.

This soup came together pretty easily. I started making it with the idea that it would be halfway done by the time Farrell got home from work, so that I wouldn’t bombard him with soup upon walking through the door (or make him wait forever, what a horrible housewife I would be!). Farrell got caught up in a riveting conversation about data visualization and came home much later than I anticipated, so the pot was left simmering (covered, on the lowest heat setting) for an extra half-hour. It was still awesome when he (finally) did get home. It’s a good throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-wait type of meal, but still gives you that wonderful satisfaction of culinary accomplishment.

You know how I know this is good? A friend from Brazil is staying with us and he approved. A total honor. So make this soup, and all your friends will be so impressed with how worldly and internationally savvy you are. You’re welcome.