Monday, March 28, 2011

The Soup Project: Meatless Monday's Caldo Verde or Portuguese Kale Soup

Ever since I discovered this inspiring blog, I've been pairing down my possessions, and last week when I was going through my cookbooks, instead of pairing down, I found myself perusing my all time favorites and looking for recipes. When I picked up The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (1982, Alfred Knopf), it brought back memories of shopping at Pike Place Market, long before neighborhood markets started in Seattle.

On Wednesdays local farmers came to the market and I bought a lot of produce from Katherine Lewis of Lombrici's Organic Farm in the Puyallup Valley. One day when I asked Katherine how to cook kale and she had recommended The Victory Garden Cookbook. Even though Lombrici's no longer exists now, and Katherine has gone on to Dunbar Gardens in Skagit Valley where she weaves these amazing baskets, The Victory Garden Cookbook continues to inspire me today.

I wanted to make a soup with the kale from my garden, and the first recipe I found was Portuguese Kale Soup. Just a glance at the recipe told me the flavor depended on the pound of sausage, listed as the third ingredient. Garlic and tomatoes were the only other flavorings. And so much sausage made me picture grease floating on the surface chocking the vegetables and beans.

I checked a few other versions of this soup, and in The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (2006, Readers Digest Association, Inc) a Portuguese soup listed just 4 ounces of turkey sausage and 1 1/2 ounces pepperoni--a healthier version than the one from 1982. I checked out blogs next. This one called for two thick slices of chorizo sausage, and this one, though vegetarian looked so bland and boring, I knew we'd be pouring salsa in to spice it up.
I chose Field Roast sausage to substitute for the sausage and bring in more flavor. I've probably mentioned it before but Field Roast was started by Seattle chef David Lee. I met him years ago, and we talked about making seitan, the wheat meat from Japan and China. The company makes great burger patties, roasts and sausage. The meaty texture is intriguing and the sausage has great flavor but is on the salty side, so I didn't add salt to the soup. Also, I used the Apple-Sage variety, in case this is what you want to try. Look for it at natural food stores and food co-ops.

If I didn't use the Field Roast, my next choice would be to dry-fry mushrooms for a meaty texture and add the spices normally used in sausage making. Also if I had more garlic I would have added more, just because I love garlic and with this savory soup, more garlic would be perfect. I added dried thyme because that's what I have the most of in my pantry.

Here's the recipe:

Meatless Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
(Serves 6 to 8)

4 to 8 ounces sliced Field Roast smoked apple sage sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced red or yellow onions
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 carrot, sliced
1 or 2 potatoes, diced
1 small sweet potato or yam, diced (optional)
2 cups cooked garbanzo or kidney beans
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4 cups water
28 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
4 cups thinly sliced kale
Salt to taste

1. Saute the Field Roast sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil until both sides of the sausage are browned, remove from heat and set aside.

2. Heat a heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir and cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic, carrot, potatoes and sweet potato, if desired. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add beans, hot sauce, thyme, water and tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Stir in kale and simmer until soft. Add Field Roast sausage, stir, then add salt sparingly.

I'm not sure, but I think my Cooking Assistant was fooled by the Field Roast "sausage."


Joan said...

This soup would be great even without the Field Roast sausage, and the cool thing is I usually have ALL these things on hand. Great for the vegetarian! Thanks for posting it!

ddzeller said...

You are so right! Another reason to love kale.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Dunbar Gardens. Katherine used to bring a copy of The Victory Garden Cookbook to market for customers to look at for cooking ideas. I imagine customers now can just google a recipe on their smart phones when they're at the market!

ddzeller said...

Katherine was so helpful in my early days of learning to cook odd vegetables like salsify and the Victory Garden Cookbook is one of those "keeper" cookbooks that I love to go back to over and over again.