I just fell victim to yet another “Cook’s Illustrated Moment.” I get these every now and then when I’m flipping through my latest issue of the magazine and see some recipe that really speaks to me. Well, screams to me, actually. Pretty loud, even, although the neighbors haven’t yet called about the noise. These are the moments when I am reeled in by a tasty sounding dish and very quickly realize that I absolutely must make it. As soon as possible.
Once I had the ingredients in hand I set to work but decided to start with just a half batch. What a dumb decision. After the first taste, I realized I should have made a double batch instead and eaten it all week long. Especially this time of year in Minnesota, there’s nothing quite as nice as a warm bowl of a hearty soup on a cold night. The good news is that I still have enough ingredients for another half batch, which I will be making just as soon as I get this posted. It’s just too incredible not to share.
Portuguese Caldo Verde Soup
Slightly modified from Cook’s Illustrated, November/December 2013
¼ C extra virgin olive oil, divided into 1 T and 3 T
12 oz Spanish chorizo, cut into ¼” to ½” pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
¼ to ½ t red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
4 C chicken broth
4 C water
1 lb collard greens, stems removed, cut into 1” pieces
2 t white vinegar
Salt and pepper
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to taste (optional)
Heat 1 T oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes. Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, broth and water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Scoop out ¾ C of the solids (potatoes) and ¾ C of the broth and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the collard greens to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, another 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 3 T oil to the blender and process for 1 minute. The mixture should be very smooth and will resemble pancake batter in texture. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the pureed mixture along with the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a hearty, crusty bread and, if desired for extra flavor, drizzle 1 t or so of extra virgin olive oil over the soup in each bowl. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Step by Step Details
Most of the ingredients are pretty easy to find in any supermarket, but the Spanish chorizo might require a visit to a more upscale grocery store, a Spanish foods store, or an online site such as at La Tienda, The Spanish Table, or Jose Andres Foods.
Start by slicing and dicing everything you’ll need for the first part of the recipe. You can cut the greens later, while the potatoes are cooking.
Slice the chorizo into whatever size piece you prefer. The original recipe said ½” pieces, but that seemed a little big for my taste, so I went with ¼” pieces instead. Chop the onion finely and mince the garlic.
Make sure to use Yukon Gold (or another “gold” type of potato). “Regular” (russet/Idaho) potatoes contain more starch and will break down and become grainy, whereas the lower-starch golds retain their integrity after cooking. I had a last-minute panic when I realized that some my russets had escaped from their bin and intermingled with my gold potatoes, and I couldn’t tell one from the other without slicing every single one open. Lucky for me, I had just enough golds for the soup and ended making a very large batch of mashed potatoes from all the rejects in the background.
Cut the potatoes into ½” pieces.
Heat 1 T oil until shimmering. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes. The oil will almost immediately turn red-orange from the spices in the chorizo. This is a good and very tasty phenomenon.
Remove the browned chorizo and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. (Note: I used ¼ t of red pepper flakes, as called for in the original recipe, but didn’t notice much of a kick. Adjust to your taste.)
Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the potatoes, broth and water to the pot.
Stir to blend, and increase heat to high until it reaches a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
While the potatoes are simmering, prepare the collard greens. To remove the ribs, cut each leaf in half alongside the rib; discard the ribs.
If you promise to be extra super careful, you can try cutting the greens the way I did. I stacked all the half-leaves in a pile, rolled them up into a tube, then cut across the tube into 1” strips. (This is the same technique I use for slicing basil into strips.) Just watch your thumb and that knife. Trust me (see Bloopers Photo #4).
Then you can coarsely chop the strips into 1” pieces.
After the potatoes have softened, scoop out ¾ C of the solids/potatoes and then ¾ C of the broth; place a blender or food processor for later.
Add the collard greens to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
The greens will darken as they soften. Add the chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, another 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining 3 T oil to the potatoes and broth in the blender and process for 1 full minute. The mixture should be very smooth and will resemble a thick batter in texture.
It works just as well with an immersion blender, too.
Remove the soup from heat and stir in the pureed mixture.
The soup will lighten and thicken after stirring in the puree. Add the vinegar, and stir to blend well.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hearty, crusty bread, and, if desired for extra flavor, drizzle 1 t or so of extra virgin olive oil into each bowl.
Any leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Enjoy!