Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
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Ah, soup and bread. Always a winner!
Ah, soup and bread. Always a winner!

We’ve waffled quite a bit on making Caldo Verde (literally “green broth”) over the last couple of years. Most recipes (even by “famous” chefs) are often for a vegetable soup (beans, tomatoes, etc.), to which the cook adds kale and calls it a day. But, when we read the traditional ingredients (potatoes, kale, olive oil, sausage, salt, and pepper), we really wanted to go that route. But, as you’ll see, we had to make some adjustments for what we had on hand, making something a bit closer to the real deal. After all, we can already make vegetable soup. How close we came to the traditional caldo verde flavor, well, we’re not sure. Why don’t you try scratchin’ up a batch and let us know?

First off, we knew we were up against a wall because we didn’t have any of the traditional Portuguese sausage, linguiça, on hand, but that doesn’t stop us scratchers, does it? No way. We decided the best way to handle this omission was to find out what spices are in linguiça and go with that (see this post). Of course, linguiça is smoked, which we take care of below. Finally, we add our own little twist (of lime) at the end.

This recipe is based on several sources, including Soup Suppers, by Arthur Schwartz and on a recipe included in the Tucson CSA newsletter.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

Yield: 4 servings

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)


  • 4 cups broth or stock
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbs high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Piece of Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 bunch (1/2 pound) kale, stemmed and shredded
  • 1 lime, for serving

Abbreviated Instructions

Peel and dice potatoes.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine stock, potatoes, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are easily mashed, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, and mash potatoes.

Return to heat, add smoked paprika, liquid smoke, chipotle powder, oregano, black pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese rind. Let simmer 15-30 minutes.

Remove cheese rind, add kale, and simmer 10 minutes.

Serve with a wedge of lime for squeezing into soup.

Ingredient discussion:

kale soup ingredients
It’s amazing: a few basic ingredients, some spices, a little time, and soon you have a great soup.

Notice that we use smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and chipotle powder (also smoked) to compensate for the lack of smoked sausage. All of these are widely available, but smoked paprika can be pricy, so consider ordering it online (or buying directly from one of the stores) from Penzey’s spices. That’s where we get many of our spices and herbs. Note that we specify a high-quality olive oil, because it’ll be adding flavor to the soup, and high quality extra-virgin olive oils are loaded with flavor. Finally, note that we include a Parmesan cheese rind. Real Parmesan cheese (not from a shaker can) includes a cheese rind which is packed with glutamates (which enhance flavor). We always save our cheese rinds to add to soup for the flavor. It’s a secret trick we use to boost flavor. Keep it just between us, okay? If you don’t have one, well, let’s just say your soup won’t be as good as it could be. Finally, the lime adds a bit of acid to brighten up the flavor.

Procedure in detail:

Boil potatoes. Place the broth in a large saucepan, about 3 quarts in size, over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, salt, and garlic, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender enough to mash easily.

mashing potatoes
You know better than anyone else how you like your potatoes mashed; we like them just a bit chunky.

Mash potatoes. Remove the saucepan from the stove and mash the potatoes right into the broth. You can leave them chunky, or you can make them smooth, whichever you prefer.

kale soup broth
Adding the smoked paprika turns the broth a reddish color and adds a nice smoky flavor.

Season. Return the broth and potatoes to the heat and add the paprika, chipotle, liquid smoke, black pepper, oregano, olive oil, and cheese rind. Let everything simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then taste and adjust seasoning.

kale soup
Add the kale and simmer until it’s wilted and a bit tender, about 10 minutes, before serving.

Add kale. Remove the cheese rind and add the shredded kale. Let simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the kale wilts and becomes tender.

caldo verde
Most cooks under-utilize limes, lemons, and other acids (such as vinegars), which is a shame, because they really allow flavors to shine.

Serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with a wedge of lime and, if possible, crusty bread.

About midway through the cooking process, we were worried about how this soup would turn out. At that time, the flavor was flat and somewhat bland. But once the kale was added and allowed to simmer, along with the squeeze of lime, the flavor perked right up. The soup is quite smoky-tasting with all those smoked ingredients, but it isn’t overwhelming, nor does it seem as though it’s artificial. Overall, it tasted like one would expect from a soup that includes smoked sausage, and we liked that it was different from a standard been/tomato/vegetable soup, making it a definite four-star recipe.

Worth the trouble?

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