Soup Nerds

This is the view out my window at 4.30pm today. I huddled on the couch watching Revenge of the Nerds, feeling my Seasonal Affective Disorder tighten, and decided it was time make soup. A quick check in my Gloomy Economic Outlook-stricken pantry and my decision was made for me: Caldo Verde.

This is a great soup because it’s got everything going for it. Cheap, quick, easy, it’s a few ingredients that are usually in everyone’s pantry, and a perfect lesson in the sum being better than its parts.

The soup is Portuguese in its roots. I am not Portuguese, so I’m not hamstrung by tradition. I used plain mild Italian sausage, Yukon gold potatoes and… white beans, which would probably get me hung in Portugal, but I like it and I won’t apologize, just like I won’t apologize for watching Nerds for the bazillionth time.

Use the proportions that you have on hand- a whole onion or a half, a Jimmy Dean link or chicken sausage. Cannellini or black beans. Whatever you’ve got. Every soup is a concept, not a recipe. It’s how peasants used up leftovers, which is why you should feel free to stray from a recipe.

CALDO VERDE

Onion, chopped medium-fine
Garlic, smashed and chopped
Potatoes, halved & sliced thinly
Olive Oil
Sausage
Kale, washed, trimmed & sliced thin
Chicken stock
Cooked beans
Plenty of Salt & pepper.

In a pot, sauté the onion in a little olive oil, add potatoes and garlic and mix well. After a few minutes, add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. In a skillet, warm some olive oil and cook the sausage until no longer pink. Add to the pot but reserve the fat and sauté the kale, adding water to help loosen any brown bits. Add the wilted kale to the pot, along with the beans. Bring to a simmer, add salt and lots of cracked black pepper. Simmer for a few minutes and check seasoning. I like my Caldo Verde a little thick, so I add less stock and more potatoes and then I mash them a little before adding the sausage. Start to finish, about 40 minutes.

Salt takes awhile to spread through the soup, so add and stir, wait a few minutes and then taste before adding anymore salt. And remember, nearly all soup is better the next day.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.

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