Sunday, 16 March 2008

Caldo Verde

We've recently (finally) signed up for a vegetable box delivery - once a week we have an assortment of organic vegetables delivered to our door. We went with Abel and Cole after they were recommended by several friends, and are very pleased with them so far. Aside from the fruit and vegetables the specialize in, Abel and Cole also act like a small online grocery store, and we're enjoying batches of fruity soy yogurt as well as some incredible fresh fish and meat. What having a veg box also means is that we're landed with plenty of vegetables (a good thing, don't get me wrong) and have to think of ways of using them before they go off. It's helping us increase our vegetable intake while cutting down on the meat a bit, and whenever we're stuck with how to pull of the trick of cooking armfuls of vegetables at once, we revert to soup.

I found this recipe for a Portuguese soup on the BBC website, originating from the Hairy Bikers (for anyone not familiar with their show, they are what they say they are: two large, bearded bikers who ride around different continents and sample and cook local food. Great job if you can get it, I say). I was interested in the soup not ju
st because it used the vegetables we needed to cook with, but because I don't have a huge amount of knowledge of Portuguese cuisine.

What I do know about Portuguese food, in fact, could be written on the back of a matchstick. I know that they love pork, as a lot of continental Europe does. I know that they were a great sea-faring country and so brought touches of their cuisine around the world (for example, firey-hot Indian Vindaloo is a corruption of the Portuguese te
rm 'vinho de alho' or 'vinegar and garlic' which is what the meat is prepared with). I also know of their reliance on cod and salt cod in particular, illustrated by the story a friend told me about how a power outage when she was a child forced her family to get a take out meal since her mother couldn't cook that night's cod, and it lives in her memory as one of the more exciting nights of her childhood.

So the Portuguese soup? It was very tasty but I felt it could have been better with a slight tweak of both the recipe and my behavior. The recipe only calls for 1 chorizo sausage but I would be inclined to add 2-3 (Mr A&N pouted that I was making h
im eat peasant food when, the last time he checked, he hadn't been a peasant for at least 2 generations). I also always suffer from adding too much liquid to my soup stock since I make the stock in my large pot and always feel the chicken looks so lonely without more water around it. I would next time follow what's said and only add the amount called for. It was still a very good and hearty soup, and nicely livened up by the swirl of spicy oil added on the top. I'm intrigued to find out what else Portuguese food has to offer me.

Caldo Verde, from the Hairy Bikers
makes 1 large pot

  • 2 nice fat onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 60ml/2¼fl oz olive oil
  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1.5 litres/2 pints 13fl oz good vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • large bunch of greens or cabbage
  • smoked paprika and olive oil, for dressing
  1. In a frying pan, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.
  2. Chop the sausage into small chunks and add to the onion.
  3. Sweat the onions and sausage for a few more minutes and then add the diced potatoes. They will absorb all the flavour from the sausage.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large pan, add the stock, seasoning and bay leaves, and cook until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, very finely chop the cabbage.
  6. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth to make a thick base.
  7. Blanch the greens in boiling water for one minute to take off any bitterness, drain, then add to the simmering broth.
  8. Add as much cabbage as the broth will support - if you want heavy soup add loads of greens, if lighter, add less, and simmer for a few minutes.
  9. Mix the smoked paprika with some olive oil to make a dressing, and drizzle this on top of the individual bowls of soup.


Peter M said...

The hairy bikers sound like they are picking up where the "two fat ladies" left off!

Caldo Verde is always enjoyed at a Portuguese wedding and I do look forward to this rustic soup.

White On Rice Couple said...

We have an organization that prepares vegetable boxes too, but have never ordered any....yet. I've seen their vegetable boxes and they're just beautiful and brimming with farm fresh produce! The Portugese soup is perfect for our spring weather now!

I want to get a hold of that Hairy bikers show! It sounds fun and maybe it'll let Todd see what he could be looking like when he gets older !:)

Helen said...

Congrats on the veg box! We are with Abel and Cole too and I love the weekly changes in the box, it really helps to keep in touch with the seasons.

Emiline said...

I don't know much about Portuguese food, either. I think of two things: Chorizo and Emeril Lagasse. He always uses salt cod on his show.

The soup sound delicious.

Elle said...

Sounds like a delicious soup. The final dressing of paprika spiked olive oil is new to me but sounds great.

Annemarie said...

Hi Peter - You're absolutely - they're the two fat ladies with a bit less poshness and a bit more facial hair. :)

Hi Diane and Todd - Though lovey men I'm sure they are, if the hairy bikers are the path that Todd is on, you may want to take a pause in your relationship. :)

Hi Helen - Yes, we've always bought seasonal but bought based on our whim. Having a box feels a bit more like having a weekly cooking challenge, but in a good way.

Hi Emiline - Emeril! I forgot about Emeril. I'll put one more thing into that 'things I know about' column. :)

Hi Elle - Yes, the final dressing seemed like a great idea that could be used again and again.

DaviMack said...

Welcome to the vegetable adventure!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hairy bikers? Not the most appetizing name for cooks, huh? But that soup sure looks appetizing, annemarie! :)

Kevin said...

I have not tried Portuguese cuisine yet. This soup sounds tasty.

Cynthia said...

I have never been a soup lover but ever since I've been down with the cold and fever, soups look so much more appealing. I was staring at your soup for 2 straight minutes :)

flyingfork said...

Glad you've gone with the veg box - you won't regret it. I've had a Riverford box for the past couple of years, and it's no exaggeration to say it's revolutionised my eating habits. Oh, and the soup looks fab, too, BTW! Good call with the spicy oil.

Katy said...

i think most people that do CSAs end up making lots of soup -- that or simply roasting most vegetables tends to be the easiest, and often delicious-est, way to use them! this looks great. i've been hunting for a CSA in manhattan that isn't either incredibly far away from where i live, or full with a year-waiting-list -- i hope to find one soon!

Gigi said...

This sounds like a great soup to have with crusty bread. The spicy oil on top was a fab idea!

gillie said...

I love the Hairy Bikers, and yes they do remind me of the Two Fat Ladies and both produce(d) great recipes.

I've had this soup at my mother's local portuguese restuarant and it is superb. I've just realised I have NO portuguese cookbooks so this will be my first attempt at a portuguese reciepe!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That dish looks tasty! Portuguese food is very interesting...



Annemarie said...

Hi Davimack - Well, indeed. :)

Hi Susan - I agree completely, though I suppose for some the smell of gasoline and the rub of facial hair is an appetite stimulant.

Hi Kevin - It was simple, but very good for it.

Hi Cynthia - Poor you, I think that was probably the cold doing its worst to you. :)

Hi Flyingfork - Yes, it's easy to see how it will turn my eating and cooking upside down. The Guardian blog (what's in my box thing) looks to be a really big help for sorting out what to do with all your veggie bits.

Hi Katy - A year long waiting list? Good god - my friends who jumped on the Fresh Direct bandwagon early must feel very smug!

Hi gigi - Yes, the spicy oil really helped make it special.

Hi Gillie - If you do find a good Portuguese cookbook let me know, since I'm now in the market for one!

Hi Rosa - Thanks!