A hearty, classic soup for hearty, classic friends

Entertaining

Entertaining: Portugal's flavorful caldo verde includes sausage, potatoes and leafy greens.

April 01, 2001|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Good friends are coming to visit next weekend. They have not been to our home in more than 10 years and are eager to do some sightseeing in New England. My husband and I have planned a mini-tour of the area, but this will result in my having little time to cook.

That means I'll have to choose dishes that can be prepared ahead and that only need last-minute touches in the kitchen.

For Friday night, I have decided on a hearty soup supper. I was recently given a recipe for a delicious Portuguese soup that I have already tried with great results.

Caldo verde, made with dark leafy greens such as collards, kale or Swiss chard, potatoes and sausage, is a celebrated soup in Portugal. I had tasted several versions in Provincetown, Mass. and liked its hearty flavors,

But it was at Alfama, a charming new Portuguese restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village, that I came upon one of the best variations of this classic hearty soup.

What I liked about this preparation was that the collards, because of their brief cooking time, retained a bright color.

A crusty loaf of peasant bread and a salad consisting of red leaf lettuce, sliced oranges and walnuts will accompany the soup, while homemade, extra-large, dark chocolate, pecan cookies plus bowls of good vanilla ice cream will cap off our meal.

Cut off and discard tough stems from collard leaves. Stack 2 or 3 leaves on top of each other and cut out and discard tough center veins. Roll leaves into tight cylinder (like a cigarette) and cut into paper-thin julienne strips. Chop julienned strips coarsely. Repeat until all leaves have been prepared this way. You should have 6 to 7 cups of chopped greens. Set aside.

Place potatoes, onion, garlic and sausage in large, heavy pot and add stock. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove sausage and reserve. Puree soup using immersion blender or food mill. If you do not have either of these, use potato masher and mash potatoes and onions. Leave soup a little chunky. These techniques work better than using a food processor, which can over-process potatoes and make them gluey.

(Soup can be made a day ahead to this point. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Wrap and refrigerate sausage and chopped greens separately. Reheat soup when ready to serve, and bring sausage to room temperature.)

To finish, bring soup to a boil. Add collards and cook, stirring, only 1 to 2 minutes more until collards are wilted but still bright green. Taste and season soup with salt as needed.

To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow bowls. Stir generous 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice into each portion and drizzle with a little olive oil. Thinly slice reserved sausage to garnish each serving. Serve immediately.

Notes: Yukon Gold potatoes worked particularly well in this recipe. Portuguese chorizo sausage is the traditional meat used in this soup. However, if it is unavailable, you can try another firm, spicy pork sausage. I have tried the soup with Polish kielbasa with good results.

Alfama's Caldo Verde (Portuguese Soup With Greens, Potatoes and Sausage)

Makes 6 servings

1 pound collard greens, washed and dried

8 medium (2 1 / 4 to 2 1/2 pounds total) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (see note)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1 (6-ounce) piece Portuguese chorizo sausage (see note)

4 quarts chicken stock

salt

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

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