Caldo Verde is perhaps the most iconic of Portuguese soups. Originating from the north of the country, it has spread across Portugal and is traditionally served as a light first course to a grilled sardine feast. This recipe is a twist on the traditional and replaces potato with a mixture of cauliflower and avocado, making it healthier, low carb and absolutely delicious. The Caldo Verde identity relies not so much on the ingredients that provide sustenance and texture to the soup (traditionally potato) but rather on the extremely thinly of cutting green cabbage (couve galega) and the obligatory olive oil and chouriça. In the absence of the traditional couve galega, Caldo Verde can be made with very thinly sliced kale.
Soups are an essential part of a Portuguese traditional meal. Although the most famous is Caldo Verde, Portugal has a lot to offer when it comes to the magic transformation of a few simple vegetables into a tasty and nutritious meal. Soups are normally a simple affair with only one rule – excellent ingredients – just get seasonal veg at the market and you’ll be fine.
This recipe is for a soup that is traditionally from the north of the country that can be a substantial meal in itself. The Portuguese are rather particular about the quality of beans and there is much to choose from when it comes to varieties. This recipe uses a brown coloured bean called manteiga which is similar to pinto beans. Although you can get beans already cooked in a jar, this soup needs the real thing as most of the flavour will come from the water used to cook the beans.
As with most dried beans, soak overnight in plenty of water (you can soak a larger quantity and then freeze the cooked beans to use in other recipes).
Fish and seafood soups are often proud specialities for restaurants all along Portugal’s coast. Different varieties of fish and shellfish combined with rich fish stocks and vegetables make these soups a substantial meal and a great use of off cuts and left overs if you have lots of fish and seafood around the house. You can also ask your fishmonger to make you a soup mix.
This recipe is a healthy (low carb, lactose and gluten free) version of a seafood chowder and substitutes cream for a mix of almond milk and silken tofu. This makes for not only a lighter and healthier dish but also allows the intense seafood flavours to come to the fore. The key for a rich flavoursome soup is a good shellfish stock, made here by simply steaming cockles and mussels. Types of fix and quantities are very flexible so do experiment…