Monday, March 8, 2010

California Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde is a much loved traditional Portuguese peasant soup which can be made with any dark leafy green such as kale, collards or cabbage. This vegan interpretation requires only a few basic ingredients and can be assembled in minutes. California Caldo Verde is built on a simple leek and potato soup base to which finely sliced greens are added for the last few minutes of cooking. The result is a delightfully warming, satisfying and nutritious meal in a bowl. Even those who think they don't like kale cannot resist a bright green steaming hot bowl of Caldo Verde!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup leek (or onion) thinly sliced
2- 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
5 cups fresh water (plus extra as needed)
1 whole bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
about 6 kale or collard leaves, very thinly sliced into ribbons

In a heavy soup pot, heat olive oil and gently saute leek, garlic and celery until fragrant but not brown. Add potatoes, water, bay leaf and sea salt. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook on low heat about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, adding a little water if soup seems too thick.

While soup is cooking, stack kale or collard leaves on a clean cutting board. Roll leaves up into a tight cylinder and chiffonade by slicing very thinly crosswise into ribbons. Stir kale into soup and continue to cook briefly just until tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of greens and how thinly sliced they are; the beauty in Caldo Verde is its fresh green color, so be careful not to overcook. Taste and correct seasoning.

Serve immediately in warm soup bowls, garnished with a few lemon slices.