Broke, Hungover, with Guests

September 27, 2012

Just when you thought it could get no cheaper and no easier than Ramen Noodle soup.

Just when you thought there was nothing more comforting, nothing more humble, nothing better for the day you look in the recycling bin and wonder who exactly (hmm…can’t recall really…) finished that bottle of Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey, just when you thought there was nothing cheaper than a packet of 10 for $1.00 Ramen Noodles, there is Caldo Verde soup.

Caldo Verde is what I serve when the cupboards are bare, my wallet is empty, the whiskey is gone, when I’m in dire need of vegetal liquids, and my kitchen is full of guests.

Since this happens more than once per year, I’ve actually gotten to be quite obsessed with Caldo Verdo. In fact, each year I grow a whole bed of Beira Kale, the official kale used in this, Portugal’s national dish.

Bright and versatile, Beira Kale is one of my very favorite things to grow.

Beira’s nubile inner leaves are gorgeous in salads and as they continue to grow to the size of elephant ears, they are still sweet and delicious. I save the stems for juice or the odd sauerkraut experiment (which often fails miserably).

Kale kraut? Stem juice? Kale mash? What other user-unfriedly things can you do with kale stems?

If you attempt this super-easy recipe, you’ll soon realize that one of the reasons Beira is the Caldo Verde kale of choice is its flat, easy to chop leaf. None of that frilly or nubbly kale for me!

I’m so in love with Beira Kale that I use it for way more than Caldo Verde. Once you learn how to chop it (step-by-step, idiot-proof directions below), your whole attitude about the Cruciferous leaf of the Brassicaceae family will change. You will no longer boil-the-hell-out, you will forever more flash cook.

For all of you corner-cutters like me out there, there is no skipping out on your knife skills here. The only truly necessário step is cutting the kale into baby fine slices. Your CALDO VERDE WILL FAIL if you wimp out with the Henckel.

This is both a humble dish and a luxurious delight. You will find as many variations on this recipe as there are for chocolate brownies but I never switch it up from this, the simplest one. I rarely even add the chouriço and instead go pure green. I look forward to it all year and could eat it everyday for breakfast and lunch.

I prefer my Caldo Verde green and my fatty snausages on the side where I can fully appreciate them.

Olive oil is an important flavor here. Don’t skimp and use the almost-best-stuff you have in your cupboard. If you want to be super-sexy and the wallet don’t mind, as always break out the big bottle of Badia a Coltibuono.


Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
10 ounces dry or already-cooked chouriço, sliced into ‘coins’ (optional)
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups cold water
1 pound kale (ideally Beira), stems removed, cut into very fine julienne – *see photos for instructions
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. Stack and roll the kale leaves into a tight ‘cigar’ shape. (Thighs of virgins optional.)

Step 2. Show your kale cigar who’s boss.

Step 3. With a patience of a saint (black mani-pedi optional), slice the kale into teensy tiny slivers.

Step 4. Admire how excellent you are at slicing.

The slivers of bright kale ‘cook’ instantly with a dousing of the hot broth.

1. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent but not at all brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover with the water, bring to a boil and lower the heat. Cook until the potatoes are almost done, about 15-20 minutes.

2. When the potatoes mash up easily, lightly purée the ‘broth’ with an immersion blender. I usually leave a few chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Keep the broth piping hot.

3. Divide the finely sliced (uncooked) kale into four pretty bowls. Ladle the broth over the kale. If you want to use chouriço add it now on top like a garnish.

Puree a lot or a little depending on the severity of your hangover.

It’s nice to pump up the meal with a little of this and a little of that. More wine always helps.

Did you remember the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day?

Soup is best taken right-side-up, but not everyone understands this.

The banjo makes an evening in The Muddy Kitchen especially lovely and countrified.

Thankfully, a deep and early sleep will be had by all.

Take your boots off before you come in here!

Please share the love
Better yet, SUBSCRIBE

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }


This looks yummy. How does this type of kale work with making kale chips in the oven? I like the fact that it might be a little sweeter tasting. Smiles, Nancy


Jennifer Solow

I think the frilly kale works a little better for the ‘Krispy Kale’ thing. I did mine this year with a little olive oil, brewers yeast and lemon. It was goooood!

Beira is maybe too flat to crisp up as nicely.



Nice recipe…and kale season is coming….good excuse to go buy more of the rye,,,


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: