Friday, May 11, 2012

Caldo Verde

So funny story... I've wanted to make this soup for a long time. It's a classic dish in my family, a soup that's brought out for Sunday dinner or when you're sick and dropped off when you need some comfort. But the thing is, I could never figure out what those green things in the soup were! My grandmother called them "coves" so that's what they were, no questions asked. Imagine my surprise when none of the supermarkets sold anything called "coves"?! Before I really ran with the idea that my grandmother had invented this soup and her garden was the main source of "coves" I called my Mom. A few minutes later I was walking out of the store with a bunch of leaves that I was assured were what I needed even though the tag read "kale" (I'm a chocolate kinda girl and used to be a pretty picky eater - new vegetables only made their grand entrance into my diet a few years ago).

I've made this soup a few times, trying to get the same flavor in a kosher variation of the original recipe. Something has always tasted off. Finally after a bit of experimenting, blending recipes, adapting and changing methods, I managed to get it tasting the way it should! I've made this in a crock pot, using an immersion blender and mashing the potatoes by hand but nothing worked until today! My beloved food processor to the rescue! For years I've heard people talk about how it's their most valued kitchen gadget but I never understood... until now! It's my assistant in the kitchen, making my hummus as I'm prepping everything else and taking care of sauces, salads and all chopping. I've officially joined the food processor fan club! That being said, if you don't have access to one, the next best thing is an immersion blender and finally if that isn't an option than a potato masher will do! I got mine at the local dollar store and it worked really well, just took a little more effort.

For those who will want to ensure it's entirely kosher, you can find an image of Kale and directions for checking it by clicking here: Star K. You only need a very small quantity so don't be too intimidated if checking isn't your thing!

There are a few steps but in the end it's definitely worth the effort! This soup is a favorite around my house and a tried and tested classic! I hope you love it as much as we do!

Enjoy!!

Caldo Verde (2 servings - can easily be doubled)

1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 cup soup broth (or 1 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 tsp of pareve chicken soup base)
4 potatoes
1/4 lb kale (about one bundle)
1 tsp minced garlic
Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
(The traditional recipe calls for linguica or chorizo, I opted not to add the meat element. The few times I have attempted substitutes it's thrown off the soup entirely. See below for variations of the recipe with the added meat element.)

Peel and cut the potatoes into halves and then quarters.
Place the potatoes in a pot together with the water and soup broth.
Add a dash of salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low - medium heat for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, after checking the kale, fold the leaves in half so that the stem is on one side and the leaves are opposite it. Going lengthwise, slice thin strips. You'll only need about 1 to 1 1/2 cups.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and place them in the food processor bowl.
Make sure not to drain the water in the pot, you'll be returning the potatoes shortly!
Using the steel blade attachment, process the potatoes for 3 minutes on low.
Stop and check the consistency - it should be almost creamy, still a thick consistency but completely pureed. If necessary process for one more minute.
Pour the pureed potatoes back into the pot.
Add the kale, minced garlic, onion powder and olive oil as well as a tsp of salt.
Bring the pot back to boil. To ensure the kale is tender allow it to boil for 3-5 minutes.
You may want to add more salt. Upon tasting it, adjust it to your liking!
Don't let the soup stand for long before serving, the oil rises to the top and the consistency of the potatoes will start to harden. Before serving, be sure you've brought it back to a boil, stirring all the while so that the potato absorbs all of the water and that it doesn't burn.





You can find variations of this recipe in, Faye Levy's "Healthy Cooking For The Jewish Home" as well as a fantastic resource to have if you love slow cooking and are looking to create a few gourmet meals, Jane Price's "Kitchen Classics: Slow Cookers"
Food Network Chef, Emeril Lagasse also has a wonderful variation which can be found on the Food Network website.

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