The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

My Favorite Kale, and Portuguese Soup

July 2nd, 2010 · 10 Comments · Posted in garden, Recipes

An indestrustable kale?

An indestrustible kale?

Black kale, Tuscan kale, Lacinato, Nero di Tuscn, Cavolo Palmizio–whatever you call it, this kale is one of my favorites. It ranks with my favorite of all plants for the vegetable garden for so many reasons. With it’s dark, deeply-etched leaves, it could be an ornamental. It’s a pleasure to look at, like a little palm tree with its long leaves flopping over. It seems to grow equally well in any climate, and rarely attracts any pests, even when other brassicas are being gobbled up by slugs and harlequin beetles.

It’s hard to fathom how plants so complex and appealing could spring from a seed smaller than a pin head. These were planted from seed directly in the garden on March 7. We will be harvesting the leaves all summer long.

I also love the deep flavor and toothsomeness of this particular kale. I add it to a pot of mixed greens to simmer with a ham hock for a long time. Or it can be cooked on its own.  Although it is an Italian kale, and not a Portuguese kale, I suggest you try it in this classic Portuguese kale and potato soup.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

Serves 6 to 8

This “green” soup made with mounds of shredded kale is the national soup of Portugal. In the markets of Portugal, vendors are equipped with special shredders that chop the kale into tiny pieces in a flash. You will  need to chop your own. It’s not hard, and the end result is a wonderfully filling, economical soup that is full of texture and a comfort to serve on a cold winter night.

1 pound kale, cleaned, stems removed

8 ounces linguica sausage, thinly sliced (or substitute Spanish chorizo sausage, or mild Italian sausage removed from its casing and broken into small pieces)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt

2 pounds white or red all-purpose potatoes

2 quarts chicken stock (preferably homemade) or water

freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Prepare kale by stacking several leaves on top of each other, rolling them into a tight cigar shape, and slicing them as thinly as possible into strips. Set aside.

In a large heavy pot over moderate heat, brown sausage. Remove sausage and set aside. Reduce heat to moderately low and in the same pot heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and sweat until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes, slice them in half lengthwise, then slice thinly in the other direction. Add potatoes to pot, stir to coat well with oil, and cook another 2 or 3 minutes. Add prepared kale, sausage, chicken stock or water and pepper. The kale will be very thick and tall in your pot. Not to worry: it cooks down. Use a wooden spoon to turn the vegetables over gently from the bottom and mix them together. Raise heat. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered until potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve hot.

Variation 1: substitute ½ loaf day-old country bread for potatoes. Cut bread into thick slices, remove crust and pull bread apart with your fingers into small pieces.

Variation 2: When soup is finished and still very hot, and you are almost ready to serve, break six to eight eggs into the broth and allow eggs to poach. Ladle a poached egg into each soup bowl, along with the soup.

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  • syrupandhoney

    I love the flavor of Lacinato kale but find it pretty mild. You’re right that it’s also beautiful. This soup sounds wonderful.

  • Cornelia at

    I made this last night but used the TONS of beet greens I have from two CSA shares. Delicious still. We sprinkled parmesan over the top, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Sarah@ Homestyle Cooking Around The World

    Love this soup recipe- will be trying it tonight. I also love the variations you gave.

  • Terese

    This sounds like a spectacular version of one of my favorite soups! Have never tried poaching eggs in the broth but am going to do it now! Decadent!

  • Jenny

    My daughter turned 10 yesterday and THIS is what she most wanted me to cook for dinner. So scrumptious. We used fingerling potatoes and kale from our CSA out in Frederick County MD. I also add a little thyme, two bay leaves and a pinch of parsley, as well as white beans or kidney beans. The soup is very hearty — and SO satisfying served with crusty fresh bread, and a little parmesan or emmenthaler grated on top. A family favorite.

  • Ed Bruske

    Congratulations on your wise daughter.

  • Jenny

    And now I have friends and family begging for your kale soup recipe. My cousin in upstate NY just emailed me requesting your recipe and is making it this morning as I type! Just showed daughter your eggplant parmesan blogpost from this week. Dinner tonight! Thanks for the wonderful work you do.

  • Ed Bruske

    You’re welcome, Jenny! Keep making real food….

  • Roland

    I used to eat this at my grandmother’s house who was a native to Portugal. They would serve it with Portugese bread or add the bread into the soup and mash the potato’s. Spinach would sometimes substitute for the kale. I would eat six bowls of this at a sitting and loved it. Still my favorite.

  • Mary Slanker

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful info.