Portugese Green Soup or Caldo Verde

9 Feb


The rooster that watches over my kitchen.

Between my husband and I, our kids have quite a mix of heritages. I’m Scottish/Irish/Welch/Cornish with a dash of French. Richard is German/Portuguese. Well, not just Portuguese, but Azorean to be more exact. Being almost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores has seen many populations throughout the centuries. All jokes about sailors and ports aside, there is some evidence that the Azorean carry some unique genetics.


My father-in-law’s family is from the Azore Islands, more specifically Terceira Island.

                    Terceira. Image credit.

My mother-in-law’s Azorean roots are from São Miguel Island.

The Azores Islands is made up of nine volcanic islands in the Northern Atlantic Ocean located about 1,500 km (930 mi) west of Lisbon, Portugal. The Azores are one of two autonomous regions of Portugal. Cuisine is one of many things that the Azores share with Portugal.

I read in one of my Portuguese cookbooks that Caldo Verde (Green Soup) is the national dish. I image that for any country and or culture it is difficult to declare just one dish as the definitive nation dish. Although I’m sure that Caldo Verde is considered a beloved one even if no one can agree on just one dish.

I had heard my mother-in-law, Kathy, talk about this soup. When she would talk about the soup in the presence of my husband, her son, he would usually make the “yuck” face. Then upon further reflection he would remember that it wasn’t all that bad.

As a present, years ago, Kathy gave me Food Of Portugal, by Jean Anderson. I was always told that linguica was the reigning meat of Green Soup, so it’s what I have always stuck with.  So using the cookbook’s version as a base, I tweaked it to make it a favorite for my own family.

Caldo Verde calls for collard greens, kale or turnip greens. I have always used kale. I love kale. The rest of my troupe, not so much. My husband has referred to my baked kale chips as Zombie repellant. But this soup is an almost iron-clad way to get my family to eat a hearty serving of this nutrient rich vegetable.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)

Make 6 to 8 servings.


1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped fine.

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 potatoes (I used Idaho, but Russet or Maine potatoes will be just fine), peeled and thinly sliced



2 quarts cold water

13 oz. linguica (Portuguese sausage. Silva makes a good one. You can find it in most grocery stores. I’ve even found it at Costco), sliced thin.

2 teaspoons sea salt (or go with your taste)

1/2 teaspoon pepper (same as above)

1 pound kale, remove stems. You can remove the center vein. I usually leave it. Filigree cut. To do this layer about 3-5 leaves and roll tightly into a fat cigar-like roll. Starting at the tip, thinly slice. Click here for a short demonstration. If it feels awkward you can start with just 2-3 leaves. Watch those fingers! You may have to re-roll during the chopping process. When done, the kale should have shredded appearance.


In a soup pot sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. About 2-3 minutes or till they start to appear glassy. Add the potatoes and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes till they start to color.


Add the water, cover, turn up the heat a bit till it starts to boil. Then turn the heat back down to medium and gently boil for about 20 minutes till potatoes are mushy.

While the potatoes are boiling fry the linguica in a medium sized skillet over low-medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. You can drain off the excess fat, but I pour it right into the soup when I add the sausage!


When the potatoes are soft and mushy remove the pan from heat. With a potato masher mash the potatoes right in the pot. Add the sausage (excess fat too), salt and pepper and return to medium heat. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the kale and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or till the kale becomes tender and the color of jade.




My mother-in-law usually puts some canned fava beans into hers. I used to, but since I now avoid legumes I don’t. They do add a nice flavor and texture if legumes aren’t a problem for you.

* I made a smaller version with turnips instead of potatoes for a more “paleo” version (are potaotes paleo? Let’s get  Mark Sisson‘s take on it). Prepared and cooked the same way that I did the potatoes, they gave the soup a slightly sweeter and less hearty flavor. But it was still pretty delicious, so it is a good alternative if someone is avoiding potatoes in their diet.

To find out about national dishes of the world, click here.


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