|Right Food for the Season - Late Winter|
|Written by Alicia Fidalgo|
I read someplace that spring is only 20 days away? I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that winter seems a lot longer this year. At this point, not only are you likely tired of the need for heavy coats and threats of snow – you’re probably also tiring of the soups, stews and braises that are so common during the colder months. So before we put away the dutch ovens and the roasting pans I wanted to share a favorite winter soup of mine that will hopefully get you through these last few weeks of cold – and allow you to use some of winter’s bounty in a new way.
Caldo Verde translates very simply to ‘green soup’ in its native Portuguese and is the unofficial soup of Portugal. Since it is a traditional peasant dish, it makes great use of the easiest to find (and cheapest!) produce available this time of year. It originates from the Minho province, but is common throughout the country. Ask any Portuguese-American: everyone makes it differently, and their mother and grandmother always make it best.
My mother used to call it grass soup – and I avoided it like the plague most of my childhood – because the shredded kale really does look like grass floating around. I’ve come around, and now that kale has become one of my favorite vegetables, I look to Caldo Verde as an inexpensive reminder of home, and the flavors of Portugal.
There is one ‘special’ ingredient – but if you live here in New England, it’s not too hard to find. Portuguese linguica is a pork sausage that is a little fatty, smoky, and seasoned with paprika. A lot of grocery stores carry it, or if you’re near Ludlow, New Bedford, or Fall River I bet you can find it everywhere. My linguica was from J.R. Butcher Shop on Center St. in Ludlow MA, and it’s divine. My grandmother would kill me for saying it but another hard, smoked sausage would work in a pinch – andouille or chorizo are good substitutes.
I hope you enjoy this soup as much my family does. It is a great way to use kale and potatoes in a traditional peasant dish from my family’s homeland. Since everyone’s Caldo Verde is different –feel free to play around with the ingredients based on what is in season in your market! Chard, escarole or collards would all be great in this soup.
Obrigada! Bom apetite!
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 cups of linguica (or other smoked sausage) - chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, large dice
1 can white cannellini beans (rinsed)
4 cups chicken broth
1 small bunch of kale, washed, dried and cut into ribbons
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: Take extra care washing your kale as it can be really sandy. I fill my sink with water, swish the kale around, and then let it sit so the dirt floats to the bottom of the sink– then I just give it a whirl in the salad spinner.
In a medium soup pot heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is starting to smoke, add chopped sausage and render the fat. Reduce heat to prevent burning. Once sausage has rendered some oil, add chopped onion and cook until translucent, add garlic and stir cooking about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chicken broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and reduce heat. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add cannellini beans and chopped kale and cook until beans are warmed through and kale is just wilted. Season with salt and pepper – and even a little hot sauce if you desire! Serve hot with crusty bread.
This is Alicia's first piece for Local In Season. Please visit her blog, The Clean Plate Club, for more gems from Alicia!