Caldo Verde -green soup take three

I have meddled with a national dish

Today I have made the national dish of Portugal - Caldo Verde.How bold was I? Apparently every Portuguese mother´s Caldo Verde is defended by her offspring.Like a pirate I entered someone else's territory and was seen to be taking the spoils. Having made this dish beloved by every Portuguese family, I will now proudly foray into the dispute.I confess I broke with tradition and put my own interpretation on the classic recipe.Caldo Verde literally translates as "hot and green" in Portuguese, and it is the finely shredded greens that traditionally give the dish its colour.Markets and supermarkets in Portugal are abundant with shreeded greens, either sold loose by weight or bagged up and ready to plonk into your Caldo Verde.You can substitute any greens as long as they are in the cruciferous family, by which I mean any brassica,so even the brussel sprout would qualify.I destroyed the entire Caldo Verde constitution in one pan of soup.I had my reasons. In these times of austerity and having recently learnt an important lesson from the broadcasting of Nigel Slater, I now save and find a use for every particle of the particular vegetable I am paring.Today I was cooking cauliflower and having discarded all the leaves I was not allowed, under the "Slater Regime", to waste the residue.Caldo Verde was speaking to me and cauliflower is in the cruciferous family.Yeahh  I could use my leaves, but with further internet consultation, even better news, the Goan caldo verde (Goa ka gobhi soup) is made with cauliflower, florets and all.I did not want to use the florets but it got me thinking that the cauliflower leaves would give it a good colour and a subtle and sweeter flavour.I very often include the leaves and stalks when I make a cauliflower cheese,so it should work.It certainly did.The classic recipe and custom dictates that the soup be served with just one slice of chouriço.I don´t think every mother´s son would complain about the fact that I put 3 slices in each bowl.Not only that, I fried the Chouriço in garlic and sherry vinegar and included these tasty  pan juices in my soup.I sautéed the onion and garlic in my home infused piri piri oil, which is not in the original recipe but gave the soup an incredible deep comforting warmth.The tang of the sherry and the fat from the Chouriço is what made this soup for me.Regardless of what I did to it, I now totally understand why this dish is the beloved national dish.It is simply delicious.

My tribute Caldo Verde
serves 4
3 tablespoons piri piri infused olive oil
1 medium brown onion,chopped
250g red potatoes,peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove,minced
2 cups home made chicken stock
500g(2 cups)cauliflower leaves,stalks and fibous veins removed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
12 medium slices dry cured Chouriço or linguica

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.Add the onion and sautée,stirring frequently,until golden (about 10 minutes).Introduce the potatoes and cook stirring often until they start to stick to the bottom of the pan (about 7 minutes)Add the garlic and cokk for a further minute.Pour in the chicken stock and 1.5 cups of water.Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low,cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender and soft ( 20 -25 minutes).Meanwhile bundle the leaves up and roll them into tight cigar shapes and cut them crosswise into fine shreds.Repeat till all the greens are shredded.
Purée the soup in a hand blender or liquefy in batches in a food processor.Return the soup to the pan and bring back to the boil.Turn the heat to low,stir in the greens, and simmer uncovered until just tender ( about 10 minutes).season well with Flor de sal and pepper.
Meanwhile heat adash of olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the chouriço until the fats start running.Toss in the sherry vinegar  a crushed garlic clove and continue cooking until the chouriço startsto curl up at the edges.transfer the Chouriço and its pan juices to the pan of soup and stir well to mix.
Ladle the soup into bowls with 3 slices of chouriço in each.

Classic Caldo verde
Place the potatoes,onion,cauliflower,garlic and 6 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat.Reduce the heat to medium-low,cover and simmer until all the vegetables are soft,about 30 minutes. Purée the soup. Use only 4 slices of Chouriço and instead of browning them in the pan add them to the soup at the same time as the greens.Ladle the soup into bowls with one slice of Chouriço in each.Drizzle with some good Portugueseextra-virgin olive oil.

Goan Caldo verde (Goa ka Ghobi soup)
makes 4 to 6 servings
500g russet potatoes,or any,peeled and diced
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 500g head)
1 large clove garlic.peeled and chopped
7 to 8 cups water
2 soup spoons olive oil
2 cups finely shredded cauliflower leaves or any other greens
1 teaspoon For de sal,or to taste

Place the potatoes,onion,cauliflower,garlic and 6 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat.Reduce the heat to medium-low,cover and simmer until all the vegetables are soft,about 30 minutes.
Let the vegetables cool,then purée in a food processor in batches or with a hand blender.Return to the saucepan.Add the remaining water,olive oil,cauliflower leaves,and salt.Cover and simmer over a medium heat,stirring as necessary,until the greens are tender,about 20 minutes.Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chouriço slices and serve.


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