Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Caldo Verde


So I finally got around to making Caldo Verde last night... the recipe is easy, but it still turned out to be a bit of a fiasco (though fine in the end). Last week, before Anna went up to Maine, I got her to take me to Whole Foods because I knew I needed kale for this soup... a wide selection of quality greens not being what my neighborhood Shaws is known for. [ASIDE: The Whole Foods on River Street also has a surprisingly good selection of Belgian beer that is cheaper than most of the places I know] I also needed chorizo(or chouriço in this case I guess) and ended up at the meat counter thinking it would be higher quality than what was prepackaged... not thinking for a second that it would also be fresh and not smoked, as I've normally seen it. For some reason I thought the only possible way something could even be chorizo was for it to be smoked... but when have I ever bought something that wasn't raw from a butcher? It's sort of what they do... distribute raw meat. Anyway, I didn't realize my mistake until I was halfway through the recipe and took out the chorizo to chop it up... sliced through the casing and then whoops! Ah well, at least I've got some to cook up for that migas. I ended up turning off the simmering potatoes and running out to Shaws... and all I could even find was turkey chorizo, which is better than nothing, I guess, but has a bit of why do you even exist thing going on. Admittedly, I could have cooked up the raw chorizo, but as I mentioned, I already cut the casing of one, and I was led to believe that the particular flavor of smoked Chorizo is vital to the dish... so I chose not to make that substitution.

Other than that it was pretty easy, actually... though preparing and chiffonading a pile of kale is somewhat tedious, you have plenty of time to do it given the simmering times. I only had 4 cups of store-bought "fresh" chicken broth, and added in a little "better than bouillon" to make up the difference... and while it was fine, this soup is simple enough that it might be almost mandatory to use homemade chicken broth in it. Of course, that takes it to another level of effort for those of use who don't routinely make our own stock... so I dunno... thinking far enough ahead to save some chicken carcasses in my tiny urban freezer for some future Caldo Verde is a little beyond my abilities, but maybe not yours.

Here's the recipe adapted out of The Best Soups & Stews(actually an older edition, but I assume the recipe is still in there - but you never know with those guys):
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound red potatoes, peeled cut into 1" pieces
  • 8 oz chorizo, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 sprig savory of oregano
  • 6 oz kale, stems removed and cut into 1/4" strips
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven(a fairly small one - 3 quarts - will work for this) over medium heat until shimmering. Saute the onion until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  2. Add half the stock (3 cups), the potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt(since I used "better than bullion" I omitted this). Bring it to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender (15 minutes). Take the pot off the heat and mash up all the potatoes until no large pieces remain (I used one of those stick blenders - handy for rustic soups) and the soup is fairly thickened.
  3. Put it all back on medium-high heat with the rest of your stock (3 cups), the chorizo, and savory (I used oregano because it's all I could find)... bring it to a boil, then cover it and put it back at a simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Discard your savory/oregano and add in the kale and simmer it until tender... about 5 minutes. Adjust your seasonings and then serve with a drizzle of olive oil in each bowl.

It came out well, I thought... though I'd never had it, and my experience with kale is fairly limited. A change I would be make would be upping the sausage component a little bit at least... 8 ounces just strikes me as too small, though I obviously don't know the traditional ratios. But overall, it's good, hearty, and simple and can be made in an hour... if you don't have to run out to the grocery store in the middle that is.