Saturday, December 29, 2012

Steamed to Death Coming June 2013

Caldo Verde
By Peg Cochran

This year we decided to mix things up on Christmas Eve.  We normally have a sit down dinner with some Italian dish—a nod to my half Italian heritage.  But with a nearly three year old granddaughter, we wanted to eat earlier so she could get to bed and start dreaming about Santa!

I decided to make two different pots of soup and a sandwich that’s a specialty of a handful of New Jersey delis—we call them Sloppy Joes, but they’re not ground beef on buns.  They’re three layers of rye bread, cole slaw, deli meat of your choice, swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

For one of the soups I decided on Caldo Verde—a wonderful Portuguese Kale soup my late husband and I enjoyed on our trip to Portugal.  I made a few variations.  Normally I use turkey sausage instead of chorizo to cut down the fat (and because chorizo isn’t on every street corner in Grand Rapids) and since my current husband doesn’t care for kale, I usually substitute baby spinach leaves.  And this time, since I had two boxes of unopened elbow macaroni in the pantry (???) I decided to use those instead of buying ditalini which are very similar in size.

I made a very detailed shopping list for all the Christmas meals but managed to forget the hot turkey sausage for the soup.  So…off to the local grocery store to get the one thing that I was missing.  Somehow I came out with several bags and a $70 bill.  Not quite sure how that happened…and they didn’t have turkey sausage so I bought the real deal and made sure to render it first.

Caldo Verde means “green pot” because of the green from the kale.  You will notice that my soup is not green…  I had to resort to using the deck as additional refrigerator space and my spinach froze and besides, I forgot all about it.

The soup was delicious anyway and sad to say is all gone!  I never get tired of good soup!

1 TBL olive oil
1 lb chorizo sausage (or hot Italian sausage—turkey or regular)
1 quart chicken broth
1 large onion, diced
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 bunch kale, stemmed, washed and chopped (or use baby spinach)
1 ½ cups ditalini macaroni (elbows will work too)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
½ TBL paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Remove casing from sausage and cut into small, bite-sized pieces.

A warm, delicious bowl of soup!
Heat oil in soup pot and sauté sausage and onion about 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels (not necessary if you use turkey sausage).

Add other ingredients except kale and pasta.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.

Add kale, pasta and simmer about 8 minutes until both are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve piping hot.  The finished product will be more of what Rachel Ray calls a "stoup" --combination soup and stew.  If you like it thinner, add more broth or a cup of water.

Rendering fat from sausage

Draining sausage. Not necessary with turkey sausage.

The Reg Man waiting for something to drop....

Cut your potatoes into small cubes

Elbows substituting for ditalini in my cool mise en place bowl!
Soup simmering on the stove. 


  1. Oh the soup looks yummy Peg and I love how you kept adapting and adapting and adapting:). And I know exactly what you mean about going to the grocery for one thing and coming back $$$$ later!

  2. Peg, this sounds so good. I related all too well at going to the store for one thing, spending $70 and not coming out with the thing I wanted in the first place! I have to try this soup. Sounds terrific.

    ~ Krista

  3. Lucy, did you eat NJ Sloppy Joes growing up? We always got them from the Towne Deli by the New Providence train station.

    1. We considered sloppy Joes to be ground beef with some kind of tomato sauce on them...I can't imagine why we didn't eat your version--it sounds so good! But there was also an Italian deli in our town with amazing sausage sandwiches...makes my mouth water to write that down...

  4. Peg, love the soup. Adore the dog. [I know that hopeful look!] And your cover is adorable, as well!

    Daryl/ Avery

  5. Sounds great, Peg. We made your Christmas pancake over the hols and now we'll try this dish. Perfect for a snowy climate.

  6. My father made soup that "grew". He'd start with one pan and add enough things (beef bone, noodles, various veggies, etc.) that he had to get another pan to take some of the overflow. Usually it took many pans to hold it all. That meant that jars of soup (this was before the ubiquitous plastic deli containers we all seem to have in the pantry for left-overs) were gifted to various lucky people.
    I, too, love to make soup. It, too, tends to grow in quantity. It also tends to be thick, so we call is "stewp".
    I love kale, so this will go on my to-do list.

  7. Libby, I love your story of your father's soup! I can easily imagine how it happens. You throw this in, then that, and the next thing you know you have soup for the neighborhood. Soup is my favorite part of winter! As a matter of fact, I'm wondering what I could get going on the stove now...