Caldo Verde, Tweaked…

Caldo Verde is a peasant dish from Portugal, a soup primarily of potatoes and a species of giant cabbage, traditionally served with a scrap of chouriço sausage and cornbread. This is my high-protein take on it, with a great deal more sausage, soya beans, and served with Tesco sourdough bread. OK, so it bears more of a resemblance to ciabatta than sourdough but it’s good bread for dunking in soup as it doesn’t fall to pieces. Goes well with cheese too.

I don’t think the Portuguese would approve of my less than Spartan version of Caldo Verde, but it was timely, made just hours before the return, on a massive scale, of my Lymphoedema, accompanied by pain at a level that totally overwhelms my morphine, despite the recent doubling of the Oramorph dose.  Part of the treatment for that is a high-protein diet, hence the soup.

I used a mix of broccoli and spinach because that’s what I had. If you go with tradition and use cabbage, Savoy is probably best, stalk cut out and the rest sliced very finely, 1mm or so – a chiffonade, to give it its technical term – and added towards the end as it cooks very quickly. Unless you’re very good with a knife, my version is easier. And safer.

Anyway, to the soup, which is actually rather good despite the fact that I over-peppered mine.

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High-Protein Caldo Verde…

Ingredients (using my 4-litre pot):-

1 pack Sainsbury’s TTD Cumberland sausages, lightly fried, put on a plate to cool, and sliced just a little thicker than a pound coin when cold (or roughly a pound of your preferred sausages – chouriço, fairly obviously, is the Portuguese version of chorizo so go with that, the cooking version, if you wish). Again, I dunked them in the deep fryer, 8 minutes at 140C. That leaves them pink in the middle, to finish cooking in the soup

3 or 4 Sweet Spear carrots, depending on girth, sliced about as thick as a 2p coin

6 plump Echalion shallots, quartered lengthways and finely sliced across

2 garlic cloves, grated (optional)

600g cooked soya beans (or the contents of 3 cans, rinsed and drained)

400g Frozen broccoli, stalks sliced, florets cut into bite-sized pieces. The florets might break up during cooking – don’t worry about it

A handful of frozen spinach, defrosted, squeezed to remove excess moisture, and chopped

500g or so of potatoes (peeled weight), I used King Edwards but I think Rooster would be good too. Depending on size halve or quarter them, and slice thinly

3 Kallo organic vegetable cubes

2 Knorr Chicken cubes, grated

1 tablespoon HP Sauce

1 tablespoon Knorr Touch of Taste Vegetable

1 teaspoon celery salt (mine is home-made, one third sea salt to two thirds seed, ground together as finely as talc). If using a commercial product (more salt, less seed), add it to taste

2 bushy stalks (leaves only) of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (dried rosemary is not a good alternative)

¼ teaspoon Schwartz Black Pepper

Olive oil plus any fat which drains from the sausages, for sweating the shallots

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and Schwartz Black Pepper, to taste, to adjust the seasoning at the end

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Method:-

While the sausages are still warm, drain off the fat that’s run out of them into the pot. There won’t be a lot, so add a splash of olive oil and sweat the shallots and garlic, if using, over a low heat without colouring, until they’re soft. Push in the Kallo cubes among the softened shallots, and cover with them. Wait a few minutes for them to soften – grate in the chicken cubes while waiting (I use a ginger grater, like a Microplane but less likely to take off your fingertips!) – then stir well, add the carrots, rosemary, Touch of Taste, celery salt, pepper and HP, and about a litre of boiling water (pour some over the grater to rinse it).

Stir well and simmer until the carrots start to soften, then add everything else except the final seasonings.

Simmer again for about 30 minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Check the seasoning – mine just needed salt – and you’re done. Let it go cold and stash in the fridge overnight for the flavours to do their thing and get to know each other.

Reheat the following day and serve with good bread. This, in company with the beans, will greatly enhance the protein content. I appreciate that this probably isn’t a priority for most, but it is for me.

Notes:-

Slicing cold sausages is much easier than slicing while warm, when they tend to tear.

Knorr cubes are quite hard and respond well to being grated. I use a ginger grater which is like a blunt Microplane. An actual Microplane would do the job – watch your fingers! – or any grater really. Grating is something that’s only recently occurred to me. I used to dissolve Knorr cubes in hot water before adding to the pot, giving me another dish to wash. Grating gets around that and the grater can be rinsed clean. It’s also much faster. Don’t try it with Kallo cubes though – they’re way too soft.

Spoonie rating:-

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Nothing challenging except the chiffonade, and that’s entirely optional.

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