Calde Verde; or, how to make a tasty Brazilian-style potato soup with kale

I was lucky to come across calde verde. If it wasn’t for knowing a lot of Brazilians and going to a traditional-style New Year’s party, then I would never have found it. What’s more it was cooked for me -party food!- by Brazilians, so I got to taste first hand how it is supposed to be.

What I love about this meal is that it’s a great way to use spring greens or kale! What else can you do with those lucious dark leaves.

It’s one of my staples now, and I’ve made it so many times that I can’t remember how thick or runny it is supposed to be. I make it stodgy, like a stew, and the soft textures of the bacon and onions are a great foil for the still crunchy greens.

Tip: No matter how much calde verde I make, I usually toss in only enough greens for one meal. That way you always get bright and crunchy greens at every meal.

Anyhow, here goes.

Calde verde recipecalde verde

Some potatoes (how hungry are you? I used 5 medium / smallish taties which did me two fair sized meals / bowlfuls)
An onion, diced
A clove or two of garlic, sliced
Bacon or chorizo (I used about half a pound of bacon this time), roughly chopped
A saucepan of water or stock (I cheat and use a bouillon cube)
A few leaves of spring greens or kale, stripped from the stems so you’re left with only the leafy bits

So, you dice the potatoes relatively small (so you don’t have to wait forever while they cook). Boil them in either salted water, or stock.

Saute the onion, garlic and bacon (or bacon first, if you want it crispy), until everything’s softened. Take off the heat.

When the potatoes are cooked, pour the remaining water or stock into a jug, and mash the spuds. I don’t know how mashed they’re supposed to be, but lumps give it a nice texture, so anything goes.

Gradually pour the potato water back into the mash, mixing it together to make a thickish paste. Thinner is better at the start as it thickens quickly.

Yummy way to use kaleAdd the onion and bacon mix and stir. Keep on a lowish heat for a while. BEWARE of molten splashes of Evil Tatty, it spits like some writhing bog monster when boiled, and they hurt like huge hot oil spatters.

Slice the lovely fresh greens as thin as you can (like 2mm or something), and dump into the stew. Cook for maybe 3-5 minutes, semi boiling. The greens want to be brightly hued and still crunchy, but not too raw.

Ladle into your dish and away you go.

The reason this one is yellow is due to a dessertspoon of English mustard, which worked very well.

Stock Pot, Anti Waste Vessel

I hate waste. I just hate waste. It makes me cringe when I’m in my most energetically enironmental and fills me with guilt when I’m lazy and can’t be bothered.

Whether it’s a lonely last bite of food on a plate (or even the gravy) or the bones of a bird thrown out without boiling, I can’t. Bear. Waste.

So here we have a chicken. Yesterday it did us roasted with potatoes, carrots and a whole onion, all in the same tin; today it was chicken and leek pie, with brocolli and peas and now its dull carcase is stuffed in my stock pot, boiling with a large onion cut in half (no need to remove the skin), 4 bay leaves, a handful of fennel seeds, a carrot and a celery stalk. It’s not pretty but tomorrow I can either make some kind of winter veg soup or even risotto.


Heavenly Ham

The dinner party went well. There was succulent ham cooked in cider, creamed sweetcorn and garlic baked carrots, potatoes roasted in goose fat and leek sauce. Followed by my first attempt at my mum’s famous trifle. There were third helpings of everything!

Ham Cooked in Cider is a Nigella recipe which I didn’t read too closely; I liked the idea of it, got the gist, and adapted (bastardised) it to my needs.

Cover a 3.5lb gammon joint in water and bring to the boil; throw out the water and cover it in 2L cheap dry cider. Add water if it doesn’t submerse it and bring it back up to the boil. Turn down the heat to achieve a fast simmer and add a few bayleaves, a peeled onion pressed with cloves and a few stalks of celery. The cloves influence the whole dish with a warm appley note; the onion, herbs and celery are classic stock ingredients (in both senses of the phrase).
It needs at least 30 minutes per lb of flesh, so this joint got something round 2 hours, though I didn’t check the time when I started cooking it…

Alas, no photo. By the time I remembered, we’d eaten most of it.