Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mediterranean Soups in America

We are a lucky nation to have so many different cultures and ethnic groups creating an American food. The Portuguese who settled in southestern Massachusetts have given us a wonderful soup from the Old World. It's from my new book THE BEST SOUPS IN THE WORLD

Portuguese Kale Soup
It may be called Portuguese kale soup or caldo verde, but this dish is a classic of Portuguese-American cookery as found from Fall River and New Bedford, Massachusetts, east to Cape Cod, where many Portuguese immigrants settled in the late nineteenth century. This version is my attempt to approximate the one I ate regularly at P.J.’s Dari-Burger in Wellfleet on the Cape during our summer vacations. The key ingredient here, besides freshness, is the fresh linguiça sausage. Supermarkets usually carry it on the East Coast, but elsewhere you may need to substitute the fully cooked version, and if you can’t find that, then sweet Italian sausage or kielbasa.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound (about 1 link) fresh Portuguese linguiça or chourico, casing removed
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound kale leaves, heavy stems removed, laid on top of one another, rolled up, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the sausage and onion and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage but leaving largish chunks, until the onion is softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth, water, potatoes, and kale. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are softened and almost falling apart, about 1 ½ hours. The potatoes are meant to fall apart and thicken the broth. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Break up the potatoes further in your bowl to make it thicker.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

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