Winter Comfort (Caldo Verde)
Cabbage, turnips, rutabagas, celery root, carrots, beets, and kale are my dear friends this time of year. Yesterday I was writing my E-newsletter and I started with: “if you need to use up half a rutabaga and a few carrots. . . .” and then stopped and changed that to: “this recipe is a great way to enjoy rutabagas, carrots, . . .”. It got me thinking about the semantic treatment of the less-than-sexy veggies or maybe any bits and pieces that remain in the crisper long after they’ve been purchased.
My four-year-old and I devoured the rutabaga and carrot latkes I was writing about and he requested that I make them for lunch everyday now. They were just plain delicious. So I am consciously changing my recipe writing tone to promote these winter workhorses that are packed with nutrients, endlessly adaptable and combinable, and in season in many parts of the country right now.
Today’s post features one of those winter veggies that keeps in the crisper (and stays crisp) for weeks: cabbage. Cabbage and potatoes showed up here just a few weeks ago but today’s recipe for the Portuguese Caldo Verde is completely different, quick and so satisfying.
An early Christmas present to myself in the form of Tender, Nigel Slater’s completely absorbing book about veggies, inspired the revival of this dish in our household. . .as well as the ever-present half-head of cabbage in the fridge, and my job writing recipes for CSA Farm members.
Caldo Verde (Cabbage and Potato Soup with Chorizo)
–adapted very slightly from Tender, by Nigel Slater
Savoy cabbage is very good in this but regular ol’ green cabbage or any kind of kale works just as well. One chorizo is really plenty to flavor this soup well but if you’ve got meat lovers at the table feel free to toss in another. If you’d like to make this without the meat, I would add a teaspoon or two of smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton) and another clove or two of garlic at the beginning.
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 -4 medium waxy potatoes such as Yukon Gold, scrubbed and cut into medium dice
4-5 cups water or broth
2 bay leaves
1 chorizo sausage (about 4 oz), cut into thin rounds
4 cups Savoy cabbage (or other, see headnote), cut into thin strips
Salt and pepper
Good olive oil for drizzling
Saute the onion and garlic over medium-low heat in a large pot in a bit of olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for a few more minutes before adding the water (or broth), bay leaves and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are quite soft. Meanwhile fry the slices of chorizo in a small pan until they are crisp and the fat has been rendered.
Mash the potatoes in the pot with a fork or potato masher until partially broken down. You want the potatoes to thicken the soup but also leave plenty of lumps. Add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the chorizo, adjust for salt and serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and another grind of pepper.
Happy Cooking and Eating!