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Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato Kale Soup)

Off the charts.

That’s the official statement that Fritz gave regarding the soup recipe I’m about to share with you.  And here’s the secret–I knew he would like it.  Smoky ham, silky potatoes, and delicate baby kale all swimming in a savory broth.  I mean, what’s not to like?

I’d call this soup “off the chain”, but that’s mostly because I’m a little cooler than Fritz.  And that means that I get to use some more hip vernacular.  ‘Cause saying “off the chain” is totally hip.  Right?


Anyway.  Now that I’m on Twitter I feel a lot more pressure to be cool.  Do you feel that pressure?  ‘Cause I totes feel it.  (Totes…that’s cool, right?).

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato Kale Soup) adapted from The Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and diced (optional)
  • 1/4 t garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves freshly minced garlic)
  • 5 C vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 medium to large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (I used eight small ones)
  • 1 smoked ham steak
  • 1/4-1/2 lb fresh kale (I used baby red kale)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 C additional water

In a giant soup pot that was given to you when your parents upgraded to a newer one (thanks M&D), heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the shallots and radish.  Cook until softened, a few minutes.

Add the potatoes and diced up ham steak.

Cover with the broth–I’ve been using this “Better than Bouillon” vegetable base lately and I absolutely love it.  So much better than that tinny chicken broth taste from the cubes.  However, it’s pretty salty so keep that in mind when using it (I’d definitely be interested in a low-sodium version, if they have it!).  Bring the soup to a simmer and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

While the soup’s cookin’, use the time to get the kale ready.  The stem of kale is super bitter (in baby leaves it’s not as big of a deal, but I removed it anyway), and it really helps to cut the stem out of the leaf when cooking with kale (also an excellent tip for green monster makers!).  Cut out the stem (or just rip it out with your bare hands!), then blanch the kale in boiling water for a few minutes.  Drain the kale and run it under cool water to stop the cooking process, then roughly chop into smaller pieces.

When the potatoes are tender, give the soup a rough hand mash with a potato masher and add in the kale leaves.  Technically, this soup base is supposed to be pureed and the ham/kale added afterwards.  I like a little more texture, so I chose to dice the ham first (instead of cooking it in there whole, removing it, cooling it, dicing it, then pureeing the soup and adding the ham back in), cook it all together, and give it a quick mash by hand.  It turned out perfectly.  Add the bay leaf and simmer all together for another 20 minutes or so.

At this point I also decided to add a few more cups of water.  The flavor was more than strong enough to handle a bit of dilution, and I wanted to have some more liquid in there.  I probably added three or four cups of water, and because the veggie base/ham was so salty, I still didn’t have to add any additional salt.

I love, love, love, loved this soup.  I made it this morning and then went to class, and was looking forward to having it for dinner all day!

Super comforting, and definitely reminiscent of my parents’ collard greens with a smoked ham hock and potatoes meal that I loved as a kid–but in soup form!

I think the ham was a pleasant surprise for Fritz, since we haven’t been eating as much meat as he would like (mostly due to laziness on my part).  I predict that leftovers will be gone in less than 48 hours.

And I forgot to post this yesterday, but I found a great workout on Pinterest and wanted to share it with any gym rats who need something new to mix it up.  This would also be great for anyone who doesn’t belong to a gym, ’cause most of it–all of it–can be done right at home (Kristen–I’m looking’ at you!).

I followed the workout pretty closely, except that I alternated push-ups with tricep dips, and my push-ups were all modified (at the knees).  It took me probably about 40 minutes to do, after I warmed up with some running and stretching.  Best part was I really surprised myself with how well the workout went!  I’m stronger than I think, and it’s nice to have that reminder.

What’s been inspiring you in the gym lately?

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  1. Luiza Campos

    Hi Lauren,
    I’ve been following your blog since we met last summer when you and Fritz were visiting Calgary. I really enjoy your blog and have made a few of the recipes you’ve posted. I’ll definitely make this one. I’m originally from Portugal and Caldo Verde is one of my favourite soups. I love the taste of it but it also brings back memories of my grandma, who used to make it for us. I haven’t had Caldo Verde in such a long time and with the cold weather here now it will be perfect!
    Thank you for the recipe!


    1. Lauren Zietsman

      so glad! I hope this recipe is at least similar to the one you love :)

  2. Amanda

    Great recipe! I love all of the distinct flavours and wonderful pictures too! Please check out my latest recipe for black bean soup. I think you’ll really enjoy it! http://bit.ly/blackbeansoupp


    1. Lauren Zietsman

      thanks! I’ll definitely check it out since I’m loving soups lately and need a good recipe for black bean :)

  3. Paulien

    We (me and my-sister-in-law-Myrthe) think you sóóóóó cool – think: you have fans across the world (Holland – I know it’s a tiny spot on the worldmap but even so), how cool is that !! 😉
    Have a nice autumn! Love, Paulien

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      i think you two are cool too! 😉

  4. Cecília Almeida

    Hi! I found your blog through Tastespotting and I’m loving it :)
    I’m sure this is a great soup, but I would like to tell you that this isn’t Caldo verde, We never cook it this way.
    If you want to see the differences, tell me!
    Best regards from Portugal! Cecília

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