*Image above via Park and Oak Interiors and has nothing to do with recipe that follows but this kitchen really caught my eye the other day, and, well, it’s green!
Soup is, possibly, the perfect winter lunch? It is both satisfying — even rib-sticking? — but light, as the bulk of it tends to be broth. I mean, I never leave a soup lunch regretting that I overstuffed myself, and yet it has the effect of warming me all the way through. I also find it elegant and evocative as a food class: a bowl of soup transports and remembers in a way that a deli sandwich doesn’t. This may in part stem from the fact that its ingredients are often themselves leftovers from last night’s dinner, and so soup is often, quite literally, composed of the past.
Anyhow, we it a lot of it at home, everything from Vietnamese pho (which we order in — pho and ramen are beyond even Mr. Magpie’s impressively ambitious culinary interests, as they require a lot of specific and difficult-to-come-by ingredients, take a long time to prepare, and the noodles are everything (can easily degrade the dish if not good) but are difficult to make at home and even source in supermarkets) to turkey wild rice (using Thanksgiving leftovers). My absolute favorite, though, is Caldo Verde, a hearty kale and potato dream from Northern Portugal. Every year, I beg Mr. Magpie to make a batch, and then we freeze it in quart-sized baggies to parse out carefully over the winter, if I can exercise the restraint not to thaw a parcel of it every other day.
This soup is outrageously delicious. It registers as a comfort food of the first order. A spoonful of this thick but not overly-rich soup makes me feel as though I’ve been wrapped in a blanket at a fireside and reminded that “Everything is going to be OK.” It is beautifully balanced, with the quiet comfort of the potato and the mild bitterness of stewed kale offset by the garlic-y, chewy coins of chorizo or linguica. Portuguese poet António Correia de Oliveira described Caldo Verde as “a marriage of flavors and livelihood,” and that’s exactly it. It is comforting but exciting, with those little sautes of smokey, garlic-forward pork to look forward to in every other bite. (Plus, you can enjoy the vague smugness that you have eaten your greens for the day.)
I implore you to give this hug of a soup a try. It is phenomenal for lunch but hearty enough for dinner, especially alongside a salad laced with a vinegar-y dressing and a hunk of good bread.
Mr. Magpie uses the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which is reprinted below.
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage or linguica, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine (you can also use leek)
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound kale or collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion (or leek), garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper flakes and season with pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to blender jar. Add greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to soup in blender and process until very smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
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