Introduction to Portuguese Soups

To place in perspective this section dedicated to  I will give an introduction to the various soups that one can find in my country Portugal. Did you know that Portugal is one of the biggest consumers of soup in the world? It is also one of the most creative countries in terms of recipes, changing and combining the ingredients and methods of preparation according to the different regions. So I hope that I can help in guiding you through the most typical soups in the country and please let yourself be inspired.

Caldo Verde: “Portuguese Collard Soup”

This is a simple and easy way to make Caldo Verde, one of the most popular soups in Portuguese cuisine. Caldo Verde combines the wonderful flavors of chouriço, collard greens, and potatoes to make a delicious and hearty soup that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Try it out and tell us what you think! It is a creamy soup with the wonderful use of collard, giving it the green soup look. Enjoy it with a thick slice from your favourite loaf of bread! All over Portugal adore caldo verde, a soup typically served as a first course or light supper. It has been immortalized in poetry and song, including a classic penned by poet Reinaldo Ferreira and sung by Amalia Rodrigues, Uma Casa Portuguesa: “It takes very little, very little to simply brighten a life … love, bread, wine, and hot caldo verde in a bowl.” Caldo verde, literally meaning “green broth” is a timeless Portuguese recipe. Caldo verde represents the essence of Portuguese cuisine: simple, rustic, satisfying. Using only five ingredients, most of which are always on hand, it is a humble soup that packs a lot of flavour. I grew up eating caldo verde on regular weekdays after school because it’s that easy to whip together but it’s so delicious that it has a place at weddings and other celebrations too. Caldo verde makes me proud to be Portuguese and I get so glad when I hear that my non Portuguese friends have tried making it at home themselves. Do you know exactly what cabbage to use in caldo verde? You probably don’t unless you grew up in a Portuguese household. So I’m going to take some time here to dispel a very common myth about this dear peasant soup. 

Caldo verde is made with collards, NOT kale.  In fact, Portuguese people don’t even know what kale is. If you go to Portugal right now, you will see collards planted on everyone’s front lawns. Smooth, flat, wide leafed collards. What you will not see is…kale. No curly kale, no dinosaur kale, no purple kale. The word kale can’t even be translated into Portuguese! I don’t understand where this notion that my country’s beloved soup is made with this foreign greenery but it must be stopped before our whole culinary history is marred by kale. So please, before proceeding, go out and buy yourself some collard greens. Kale is not allowed beyond this point. Apart from the whole kale vs. collard thing, there are no other rules for caldo verde. The preparation of the soup varies between regions and even between households. My Aunt Fernanda never used garlic in hers but I think it adds a certain depth of flavour so I add some cloves in. And it makes a difference, because my nephew has said that my caldo verde is the best he’s ever had (don’t tell his mom, it would crush her). There are a few other tips I’ll share here because when a recipe has only 5 ingredients, you have to really get every step right in order to extract the best flavour. It is very important to chop the collard greens super finely. This is called “chiffonade” which is a french word meaning “little ribbons”. For caldo verde, little doesn’t cut it, you’re looking to chop those collards into tiny, minuscule, slivers of green. Roll the collard leaves into cigars and rock your freshly sharpened knife back and forth over the collard cigars until you get something that looks like this:

The next tip is to blanch the collard greens.  This extra step really adds to the texture and flavour of the soup because if you add the collards in raw, they take forever to cook and they impart some bitterness. Chouriço (pronounced Sho – ree –zoo): This is probably Portugal’s most popular sausage, chouriço, as every good Portuguese child should know. The sausage was served nearly at every meal. At breakfast, it was served instead of bacon. At lunch it insinuated itself into soups and omelettes etc. and at dinner whole meals were orchestrated around it: Found in every supermarket country wide. Now that we’ve chosen the right green, let’s not mess this up with the wrong sausage okay?

My final tip is to drizzle the soup with some high quality, flavourful extra virgin olive oil. This elevates an otherwise peasant soup to new flavour heights. The extra virgin olive oil swirl looks pretty and finishing a dish with olive oil is a very fancy technique used by famous chefs at big deal restaurants. This soup is slightly creamy from the puree of potatoes and onions but is totally dairy free. It makes a nice, light opening to a meal but can also be served as a main course alongside some salad, olives and additional sliced chouriço.Ingredients: 600g white or yellow flesh potatoes,1 medium sized onion, 3 garlic cloves, 300g collard greens (about 8 medium size leaves, depending on the size), stems removed, ½ Portuguese chouriço, cut into thin slices, Sea salt & pepper to taste, extra virginolive oil Instructions: Peel the potatoes and chop them into medium sized chunks. Drop them into a soup pot filled with 1.5L of water.Peel the onions and chop those into medium sized chunks. Drop the onions into the pot with the potatoes and water. Peel the garlic cloves and drop those in whole.Place pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, season with 1 heaping tbsp. of salt.  Allow to boil until potatoes are very soft, approximately 25 minutes.While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the collard greens. Finely chop the collard greens as explained above. Aim for super fine. Place the shredded collards into a steamer basket and rinse them with cold water. Set aside.Fill another medium pot with 2" of water and place the steamer basket with the collards inside. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and steam the greens for 1 minute.Once the greens are soft but still bright green, remove the steamer basket and run very cold water over the greens to "shock" them. Allow to drain.Once the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat and use a hand blender to puree the potatoes until you have a smooth, creamy broth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.Turn the heat to medium and add the collard greens to the broth stirring frequently. Allow the soup to boil and cook the collards for about 12 minutes or until soft. Taste the soup again and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and add 1-2 slices of chouriço to each bowl of soup. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I hope you enjoy my recipe of this classic soup. Please leave a comment on my page and let me know how it went in your kitchen.

 

Cabbage bean soup

Good morning dear friends, today I bring you my favorite soup.You can adjust various ingredients to adjust to your taste. This recipe ushers in a fresh start for cabbage soup. Let's celebrate its flavor, color, and the fact that it's chock-full of healthful vegetables. It keeps nicely for days, as big-batch soup should. That being said, be sure to check the seasoning each time you reheat the soup.  Ingredients: 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped, 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped, 500 grams of red kidney beans, 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced., 4 red juicy tomatoes (pealed), 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup tomato paste (homemade), 6 cups vegetable broth ( homemade) 1 cabbage (about 400 grams) such as Savoy, cored and thinly shredded, 4 leaves of green cabbage thinly shredded, 2 pieces Parmesan cheese rind (optional), 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, Freshly ground black pepper, sea salt. Preparation: First the beans must be soaked for 24 hours prior to cooking and to cook, place the soaked kidney beans in a pan and cover with a fresh change of cold water, then bring to the boil. The beans must boil for ten minutes to destroy the toxin. After this, simmer until cooked (approximately 60 minutes), when they should have an even, creamy texture throughout. Choop the vegetables as finely as possible with a knife. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in the onion mixture and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. The vegetables will nearly melt into a sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring quickly and continuously, until the mixture begins to sizzle, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and another big pinch of salt. Drop in the Parmesan rinds, if using. Stir in the beans, thyme, and basil and simmer to warm through, about 5 minutes. Taste and season generously with salt, pepper. Serve warm, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Home made tomato paste

Homemade tomato paste is an entirely different and utterly more delicious creation than the kind you can buy of the shelf at the supermarket. It takes about a day to make and in the end, you'll have enough tomato paste to last you through several cooking projects. My aunt Fernanda used to say: “homemade preparations are worth the effort every time”. Most of us know tomato paste as a pantry staple, bought in either small tin cans or imported tubes for easier dispensing. The grocery shop versions are rarely anything special, just containers of dense, smooth tomato concentrate. When I make it myself, I get to use my home-grown tomatoes and thus the flavour of the finished product is fantastic. Slow-cooking also gives the paste a hearty, rich flavour unlike the store-bought counterpart. Making tomato sauce isn't very hard, but it's definitely labour-intensive. Even a relatively small amount that I made the last time, just enough for a few special mid-winter meals, took me a solid afternoon of work from start to finish. If you want to make a larger batch, give yourself even more time for the project and think about recruiting some extra hands to help you out. If you've never made tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes before, this is a good time to start. The amount isn't overwhelming, but you'll make enough to justify the afternoon. It's also a small enough amount that you can freeze the whole batch if you don't feel like canning it. Bottom line: Grab yourself some tomatoes and make yourself some tomato sauce this weekend. You won't regret it.

There is one thing you should keep in mind: While any tomato can be used to make paste, the kind of tomato you pick will make a difference in your final yield. The times when I've made it with heirloom slicing tomatoes, my finished yield filled just three tiny jars; the times when I've used meaty paste tomatoes, I got almost twice that. So bear that in mind before diving in with those precious heirlooms. Set up assembly line processing. Prepping the tomatoes for the sauce is the most time-consuming part, but if you get yourself organized before you begin, the work will move quickly. Set yourself up with all the tomatoes bottoms-up on the sheet pan, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then set an ice bath and compost bowl nearby for peeling. To save ourselves a bit of work, I recommend chopping the tomatoes in a food processor or blender before cooking them. A few pulses will make a chunky sauce, and longer processing will make a very smooth sauce. Conversely, if you like a very chunky sauce, skip this step altogether and let the tomatoes break down naturally as they simmer. You can also chop the tomatoes by hand, run them through a food mill, or purée them with a stick blender after they've been cooking. I give a cooking range of 30 minutes to 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours). Shorter cooking times will yield a thinner sauce with a fresher tomato flavour; longer cooking times will thicken your sauce and give it a cooked flavour. Watch your sauce as it simmers and stop cooking when it reaches a consistency and flavour you like.

Ingredients: 7kg ripe tomatoes,1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt (optional). Equipment: Big soup pot, Mixing bowls, Slotted spoon, Knife and cutting board, Food processor or blender, 6 sterilized 200gram jars for canning, or containers for freezing, Instructions: Bring a large soup pot of water to boil over high heat and prepare the ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set this next to the stove. Prepare the tomatoes for blanching.  Core out the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each fruit. Blanch the tomatoes to peel them. Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water. Cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 45 to 60 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, lift the tomatoes out and place them in the ice water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes, transferring the cooled tomatoes from the ice water to another large bowl as they cool. Pour the blanching water from the pot (no need to dry). Peel the tomatoes. When finished blanching, use your hands or a paring knife to strip the skins from the tomatoes. Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Working in batches, place the tomatoes in the food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times for chunkier sauce or process until smooth for a puréed sauce. Alternatively, chop the tomatoes by hand. For a very chunky sauce, skip this step entirely and let the tomatoes break down into large pieces as they cook. Transfer each batch into the reserved soup pot. Simmer the tomatoes. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency you like, 30 to 90 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and salt. Stir in at least 1/4 cup of the lemon juice and salt. A 1/4 cup is necessary to ensure a safe level of acidity for canning. Taste and add more lemon juice or vinegar as needed.

Preserving Option 1: Freezing, let the sauce cool and then transfer it into freezer containers or freezer bags. Sauce can be kept frozen for at least 3 months before starting to develop freezer burn or off-flavours. Preserving Option 2: Canning, Transfer the hot sauce into sterilized canning jars. Top with new, sterilized lids, and screw on the rings until finger tight. Process in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Let cool completely on the counter, if any lids do not seal completely (the lids will invert and form a vacuum seal), refrigerate that sauce and use it within a week or freeze it for up to 3 months. Canned tomato sauce can be stored in the pantry for at least 1 year.

 

 

Vegetable Stock

When making a basic vegetable stock, I choose vegetables with neutral, but savoury flavours. I don’t normally recommend adding garlic and other strong spices, but unless I know how I’m going to be using the broth, I prefer to add those seasonings when I’m actually making the dish. I also don't add salt to the stock for the same reason. Onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms are the ideal starter vegetables for stock, but feel free to swap any of these for leeks, tomatoes or peas etc. Gather some vegetables and herbs: Onions, carrots, and celery give stock a great base flavour, and you can round these out with any of the other vegetables listed here. You can also make stock using any amount of vegetables that you happen to have on-hand, but it's good to have a roughly equal portion of each so the resulting stock will have a balanced flavour. Every time I make vegetable stock, I wonder why one ever bothers buying it in the store. It's so easy! Just chop up some vegetables, cover with water, and simmer. You'll have enough stock to make your soups, casseroles, and pilaffs for weeks to come, and all in just a little over an hour.

Ingredients: 2 medium size onions,3 good size carrots, 4 celery stalks, 5 sprigs fresh thyme,1 bay leaf,1 small bunch parsley,1 teaspoon whole peppercorns. Optional Extras: leeks (especially the green parts), fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms, mushroom stems, Equipment: Sharp knife, medium size pot, Strainer, Storage containers. Method: Roughly Chop All The Vegetables: Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables and give them a rough chop. You don't even need to peel them first unless you really want to. Throw all the vegetables in a pot big enough to hold them plus a good amount of water. Cover the vegetables with enough water making sure you can easily stir them in the pot. Less water means that your stock will be more concentrated; more water makes a lighter-flavoured stock. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to just under a boil. Once you start to see some bubbling around the edges of the pot and a few wisps of steam on the surface, turn the heat down to medium-low. This isn't an exact science, but one hour is generally enough time to infuse the water with vegetable goodness. If you need to take it off the heat a little early or don't get to it until a little later, it will be fine. Give it a stir every now and again to circulate the vegetables. Take the pot off the stove and remove all the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set your strainer over a big bowl and pour the stock through. Divide the stock into storage containers, cool completely, and then freeze. Store this stock in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze for up to 3 months.