This soup has lots of history. I think I first made it while I was still an undergraduate– if not, shortly after graduating. The original recipe came from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, the first cookbook I ever bought. The sausage should be a dead give-away that I’ve altered the recipe somewhat, but certainly this dish can be made meatless and just as yummy.
More history: Madhur Jaffrey lists this soup as Indian–from Goa, to be more precise. When I mentioned it to my father, though, thinking that I was introducing him to an exotic soup from the East, he said: “Oh. That’s Portuguese Soup. My mother made that all the time when I was a kid. But where’s the linguiça?” Go figure. My sister makes her own version of this soup with linguiça, based on a recipe that she got from our Uncle Charlie, but I prefer andouille, even if it is less authentic.
Even more history: If you have watched as much Little Bear as I have over the past dozen years, I am sure you will remember the episode where Mother Bear explains to Little Bear that he was “cooked on cupcakes.” All three of our kids were cooked on kale. Throughout each pregnancy, my wife’s only true craving was for this soup. A heck of a lot better for you than pickles and ice cream, that’s for sure–and much tastier too, I would guess.
So, why caldo verde two ways? The original version of this soup calls for a puree, which is the way that Josh and his sister like the dish. My wife and our oldest child, however, prefer it chunky (as did my Uncle Charlie, by the way). Me–well, it depends on the night; I have even been known to split the difference and mix half of each in my bowl. It’s not a big deal, really, to make this dish two ways to meet everyone’s tastes–the only extra step, other than blending, is that I have to brown the andouille in two batches–a smaller dice for the pureed version, and a larger chop for the chunky.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
8 cups kale, washed and chopped
3-4 small potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes (about 4 cups)
2-3 teaspoons salt, depending on how salty your sausage is
8 cups water
3 links andouille sausage (about 1/2 lb)
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and salt, and cook until the onions start to color slightly. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds. Next, add the kale and cook until the kale reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. Add the cubed potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add water and raise heat to high. Bring to just under a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover.
While the soup is cooking, cut your sausage into bite-size pieces (to your liking) and brown in a frying pan over medium heat. Keep your sausage pieces small enough to fit on a spoon, but by all means go larger if you are wanting a more hearty soup. If you plan to make the soup as a puree, though, I suggest a fine dice over larger chunks.
For the puree version: When the potatoes are tender, blend the soup in small batches (careful, as always, blending a hot soup!) then return to your soup pot. Add the diced, cooked sausage and simmer for another five or ten minutes. Adjust your salt and serve hot.
For the chunky version: When the potatoes are soft to a fork but not quite fully cooked, add your chopped, cooked sausage. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust your salt and serve hot.
Do I have to suggest a crusty loaf of bread with this dish, or is that just too obvious to mention? Enjoy.