“Caldo Verde” with pan fried chouriço and a cake from the monks of St Francis Monastery

“Caldo Verde’ is the Portuguese national soup. This velvety, simple and hearty kale soup is eaten during festivities. My grandmother used too cook it when Spring had sprung and we were on our way to Summer, or during “São João”, St John, the night long party in honour of the patron saint of the city of Porto, which coincides with the Summer solstice.

She has this traditional circular wheel composed of a sharp blade that she would attach to the kitchen table and shred the kale leaves into fine slivers that resembled sea algae. Then she would cook them in a garlicky broth made with new potatoes that were picked from my grandfather’s field. At the end she would add to the broth, slices of a meaty chouriço made of pork loin, spices and wine. As an accompaniment, “broa de milho’ (corn bread) or even “broa de Avintes” which is a very dense, bittersweet bread made of rye flour and honey, was cut by grandad with his own pen knife. Today I present you with this classic of Portuguese cuisine which to me evokes the end of winter. In this version I pan fry the slices of chouriço and add them as a topping to the soup, instead of cooking them in the broth.  And for dessert a cake favoured by the monks of Saint Francis, in Evora. It is made with the produce of the region which are almonds, walnuts and cherries.

“Caldo Verde”

500g of new potatoes

350g of shredded kale

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

1 litre of water

1 tbsp of vegetable stock (bouillon)

1 tbsp of olive oil

salt & pepper

1 chouriço

In a deep pan, boil the potatoes, with the onion and the garlic cloves. When they are soft, reduce everything to a puree. Season with salt & pepper. Add the shredded kale and let it simmer for 20 minutes, always checking if there is enough water. When the kale is cooked add the olive oil and set aside to rest. Fry the chouriço in slices, on both sides. Serve the soup in bowls with the slices of fried chouriço on top and with some slices of good corn bread.

A Cake from the monks of St Francis

Ingredients

6 egg yolks

3 egg whites

125g of sugar

150g of ground almonds

90g of chopped walnuts

100g of chopped glace cherries

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven t 170 ºC.

Butter a spring form and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites till they resemble soft peaks and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, till it is soft and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, the walnuts and the glace cherries. Beat well.

Fold in the egg whites and place this cake mixture into the springform. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, till its surface is golden. Pierce the cake with a toothpick which should come out dry when the cake is ready.

Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely on a wire rack. Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve in slices.

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