Today marked a pretty significant day here in Nanaimo… I finally found purchasable kale at the Farmer’s Market!!  Glee!! I still don’t understand why there hasn’t been any all summer or early fall, but I guess that’s not for me to know. Sure miss all the varieties in Victoria though. Sure miss Moss St. Market. Sigh.

Anyway, I have been wanting to cook Caldo Verde for some time now, especially ever since I started missing Kale. I guess it was a desire I hung onto, just to ensure that I had a goal to find local kale. Honestly, I could have just gone to the grocery store and picked it up there, but kale doesn’t travel well and it tastes bitter by the time we get it from California. Real kale is sweet and green tasting. It’s pretty darn good.

For those of you who don’t know this, Caldo Verde is the Official Soup of Portugal! Cool, eh? And as a side note, if you google “Official Soup of Canada” (or something along these lines), it looks like it’s a tie between French Canadian Yellow Split Pea Soup and Campbell Soup. Ugh, really? And a further just as a side, I remember one time someone from England told me that she understood muffins to be an Official Canadian Snack. First I’d heard of it. Anyho, totally got side-tracked there…

I realized quickly when I started to make this soup, that I don’t have a clue what it’s suppose to taste like. Hmmmm. Not only that, but I think you need you have damn good ingredients to make this work. I mean, usually you can make due with some ingredients being a bit less sophisticated than others, but when you are only working with 5 items, there’s no where to hide. However, I’m not knocking my ingredients, because they were all solid, but I think in the future I would make a homemade broth (to put that in perspective, that’s analogous to me saying that I would make my own bread… a true rarity in my kitchen). So I’ve concluded this would be a good soup to make after Turkey Dinner or a dinner similar to that (you know, for the bones). I think having a rich, thoughtful broth would  be amazing.

Because I have never had this soup, I don’t really know if I’ve made it correctly. In spite of it’s simplicity, I am willing to bet that I have only made a version that is sort of like the real thing. I am making it a goal right here, right now to seek out the real deal. For reals. Mark my words, I will make this happen.  I don’t usually cook things I haven’t eaten before (especially “Official” things) and actually, I found it kind of awkward to do so.  I almost felt too, that it was forbidden. Or maybe that was nervous embarrassment.  I mean, there is always that off-chance that a Portuguese Grandmother is going to come waltzing into your kitchen with her big taster-tester soup spoon.  Isn’t there?

This particular recipe (that I cut and pasted from my friend Guy’s FB wall, with permission) is in kind courtesy of Marilyn Gates and it goes a little something like this…

“Yes, Nati. The Portuguese National Soup. Mince one medium onion and six cloves garlic (or less to taste). Saute in 2 tbsp good olive oil 3 mins. Stir in 6 potatoes peeled and sliced and cook 3 mins more. Add 8 cups water and simmer 20 mins while you cook a couple of linguica (Portuguese sausage) until releases fat. Smash pots and add sausage to soup. When almost read to serve add a medium bunch of kale julienned. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve drizzled with olive oil + peasant bread.”

Mmmmmmm mmmmm. Thanks Marilyn!

PS: I didn’t have linguica, so I used Hungarian Bratwurst… so wrong I know! (But delicious nonetheless.)
PPS: I don’t eat a lot of bread, so I skipped that.
PPS: (ack, I feel like I’m in a confession both)… I added a small dash of white wine. I know I KNOW, this soup has been completely bastardized. In my defense, first I already stated that I didn’t know what I was doing (so I felt some leeway there) and second, it was too salty – something had to be done. Just thankful that that Portuguese Granny didn’t come walking in…
PPPS: I have plans to add carrots to the rest of this soup tomorrow. (Did I just write that out loud?)

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