Kale: Caldo Verde – Portuguese “Green” Soup

"Portuguese Kale Soup" Couve "Portuguese cabbage potato soup"

During the fall and winter, we make a BIG pot of soup at least once a week. It’s just the two of us, but we usually make enough for at least eight servings. Obviously, neither one of us have a problem eating leftovers and, some usually ends up in the freezer for a quick dinner on those occassions when neither one of us want to lift a finger.

This Portuguese Caldo Verde will definitely make it into our regular rotation of favorite soups. See some of them like:

Ethiopian Red Lentil Soup
Mexican Caldo de Res
(beef soup)
Green Pozole
African Peanut Quinoa Soup

Sotanghon (Filipino Chicken Soup)
Mexican Tortilla Soup

(Green Lemon Chicken Soup)

Caldo verde is a Portuguese cabbage and potato soup. It’s considered a national dish of Portugal – enjoyed both at home and in fine restaurants. Its simplicity is like that of Irish Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale), which also appealed to country peasants. Caldo verde’s main ingredients include potatoes, greens, and smoked sausage.

As you are well aware by now, kale descended from a wild cabbage native to the Mediterranean region. It is commonly used throughout Europe. There’s a heated debate among Portuguese food purists about what type of cabbage is “properly” used in caldo verde. In Portugal they use Portuguese cabbage called couve.

I’m no botanist. But, unscientifically – from my preliminary research online, in Portuguese cook books and various reference materials, couve formally called “couve trunchuda” is a headless cabbage similar to kale (sea kale) and collard greens. Because of the size and shape of couve’s leaf, however, it may be more akin to collards than kale. But, more recently, kale varieties have been increasingly used to make caldo verde – especially among non-purists like myself.

For this recipe – I would recommend lacinato kale, which is also known as dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, black kale or cavolo nero. I prefer it over the curly variety in most dishes. It’s also the one I grow in my garden, since lacinato is much easier to clean than its curly cousin.

I also departed from tradition with this caldo verde recipe by adding a few other ingredients that marry well with the flavors of this very simple soup:  vinegar and bay leaves. I did however maintain the distinctive character of cutting the greens into “ribbons” (chiffonade).

This is a creamy soup made delicious with smokey sausage and it’s perfect any time the temperature dips or you need an easy go-to recipe.

Actually, the hardest part of this recipe was locating Portuguese smoked sausage. I scored some linguica, a milder Portuguese sausage than chaurico, from a small Brazilian market/restaurant in North Denver called Little Brazil (formerly Emporio de Brasil). Next time I’ll try some other smoked sausage varieties like Italian versions or kielbasa, which are easier to find.


"Kale Soup" "Portuguese National Dish" "caldo verde"

Couve "caldo verde" chaurico Portuguese sausage linguica


Caldo Verde – Portuguese Green Soup


1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves, minced

10 ounces smoked Portuguese sausage – linguica or chourico, diced*

2 pounds potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and diced

8 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Dash cayenne pepper (optional if using linguica)

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 pound kale or collard greens, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste

*Linguica is a Portuguese garlic sausage that is avaible cured and un-cooked. Get the precooked one. It is not as hot as chaurico.


  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and half the linguica/chourico and saute for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover everything with the stock. Add salt, black pepper, cayenne, bay leaves and bring to a boil and lower the heat, simmering until the potatoes are cooked, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  2. De-stem greens. Stack and roll leafy greens into a cigar shape, thinly slice into ribbons about 1/3 inch thick.
  3. Remove the bay leaves from potatoes. Puree the soup with a hand emulsifier until creamy. (Note: If using a blender or food processor, make sure the soup is cool enough and purée it in batches. Return to the pot.)
  4. Add the vinegar and the kale, bring everything back to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until the kale softens. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Serve hot and garnish with the remaining Portuguese sausage.


Sausage:  pre-cooked Italian smoked sausage, Spanish chorizo (not the same as Mexican chorizo), kielbasa.

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17 Responses to Kale: Caldo Verde – Portuguese “Green” Soup

  1. Karen Harris says:

    What a beautiful soup. We eat collards at least once a week and trying to keep them interesting for my husband is a challenge for me. Obviously I love them a bit more than he. Since we have a freezer full of sausage from Texas I can’t wait to try this soup on our next snow day. Speaking of Mr. H, your rice got rave reviews from him.

  2. I love soups flavored with smokey meats and sausages. I like the pureed potatoes, they must give the soup a great texture. And kale, my favorite. This soup has everything!

  3. Charmaine says:

    This looks lucious! I love kale soups!

  4. This was really interesting info, as I’ve never heard of this soup! You are really a food anthropologist!

  5. Kenya says:

    I make a soup very similar to this one. I got the idea from… Olive Garden. I know, I know! Anyway, sounds yummy! I’ll let you know when I make this.

  6. This is my absolutely favorite way to eat kale.

  7. This is your secret to gorgeous skin…Kale!!! I bet this soup is delish! Mmm!

  8. Looks amazing. I always wanted a better way to cook Kale. Will try it soon.

  9. sippitysup says:

    I recently discovered this Portuguese sausage myself. While it will never completely replace chorizo in my life. It is a great milder alternative. GREG

  10. I have been trying to find new ways to cook my kale, this sounds to die for!

  11. Kim says:


    This one reminds me of the Italian “zuppa toscana.” Sausage, potatoes and kale are a great combination; I could eat this all winter.

    Hope you are doing well!!!


  12. Jill Mant says:

    Hi Andrea! Just dropped by to say it was lovely to meet you yesterday and was thrilled to see all of the wonderful Kale recipes on your blog. I love Kale but the Brit (aka my hubby) does not, so I am always on the hunt for ingenious kale recipes. Cheers!

  13. KK says:

    Try some of the sausages from Il Mondo Vecchio, now at Cinque Soldi Salumeria, their new retail outlet for da goods. They are at Louisiana and Pearl,the retail just opened this week. Mark and the gang rock. Tell them the Sooper Meathead sent ya. They have it all or will get it for you.

  14. […] Portuguese Kale Soup – Caldo Verde | Fork Fingers ChopsticksNov 10, 2011 … Caldo verde is a Portuguese cabbage (kale) and potato soup. It’s considered a national dish of Portugal – enjoyed both at home and in fine … […]

  15. Melavond says:

    Oh, this looks so delicious. A must try.


  16. Lilly Sue says:

    This looks delicious! I love that there is just big pieces of sausage

  17. Sharon says:

    I was introduced to this soup decades ago in Portugal and it has haunted me ever since. It is absolutely delicious, and so typical of the cross pollination of African & Portuguese cuisines…with the linguica and the collards/kale julienned into ribbons. BTW, any smoked sausage will work well in this soup. Thanks so much for introducing this national dish to the world. I love your site! You’ve got some GREAT, authentic recipes here. So glad I found you.

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