Vegetarian Caldo Verde

Disclaimer: I have never had the traditional version of this soup, so I don’t know if this tastes legit or not. What I do know is that it tastes good and is a welcome spin on the usual kale and potato stew that I’m a little sick of having.

Vegan caldo verde and broccoli romanesco from my garden.

With a few hours gained back while we sleep train Robin, Will and I started watching the latest season of Top Chef again.  In one episode, Emeril Lagasse surprises the contestants, who are returning from a hard day in the kitchen, by making them caldo verde for dinner.  It’s a Portuguese kale stew that usually has chorizo in it.  Since I love kale and I love chorizo, I thought I would veganize it for dinner one night.

The hardest part about making this vegan is the chorizo part. Since it’s Portuguese, I’m assuming the proper thing to use is Spanish chorizo, not the Mexican kind, but good luck finding a vegan version of Spanish chorizo in stores.  I approximated by buying seitan shaped like crumbled or ground meat and that was already seasoned with garlic and onion powder.  I wanted it to have more of a Spanish chorizo flavor, so I sauteed it with half a chopped onion, lots and lots of Spanish paprika, a healthy dash of cayenne pepper, ground aleppo pepper, ground sumac, more salt, and a glug of sherry vinegar.  When I tasted it, it still didn’t taste like Spanish chorizo, but hey, one can only go so far, right?

The soup also contained sliced onions, 2 cloves garlic, 3 chopped yukon gold potatoes, and kale. Lots and lots of kale. I may have gone overboard with the kale, but hey, it’s winter and kale is in season! I used a mixture of laccianato kale from my garden and redbor (aka purple) kale.  The redbor kale had such a fantastic texture in the stew.  Both crunchy and tender at the same time.  I bought it from “The Beards” at the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s market — that’s not really their farm’s name but I can never remember. They always have fantastic produce: sweet, ripe cantalope in summer, and tender, fresh kale in winter.

The soup only took about 45 mins to make and most of the work was me tweaking the taste of the vegetarian chorizo.  After the soup was done, I tasted it and thought, “Well, it’s good, but it’s not as good as I wanted it to be and certainly not as good as if there were real chorizo in it.” But when I got to the bottom of my bowl, maybe because the broth had a chance to cool off and the flavors melded more, but I liked it better.  It’s rich, spicy, smokey, and hearty — just what I wanted in a kale stew.

And if that wasn’t enough brassica for the meal, I served the stew with a side of broccoli romanesco mainly because I needed to harvest them from my garden before the heads started to bolt. I served them plainly steamed and tossed with a quick dressing I pounded in the mortar and pestle. The dressing was: preserved lemon, garlic, cilantro, salt, paprika, olive oil.

Late Summer Veggie Garden Update

Late Summer Veggie Garden

Things have been a little hectic here, so the garden hasn’t been getting that much attention other than automated watering.  I walked outside today to check the damage and was met with lots of overgrown tomato plants.  When these seedlings were first put in, I was hoping they would become giant and bountiful like the pictures I see in magazines. I think they’re getting there.

Late Summer Veggie GardenLate Summer Veggie Garden

Lots of tomatoes, but not many that are red yet. The Japanese cucumbers seem to finally be taking off while our zucchini plant is tapering down.

Sauteed Zucchini Noodles

I’m constantly amazed at how good simple, fresh vegetables can be. These zucchini noodles that I threw together on a whim for lunch came out better than I thought, mostly because I’m always skeptical about pasta-substitutes. I don’t have a gluten intolerance, so I wasn’t searching for a non-wheat pasta, but rather, a way to use up the bountiful zucchini and handful of okra that’s popping out of my backyard.

Zucchini, okra and basil from the garden transformed into garlicky zucchini noodles and #putaneggonit.


  • 1 zucchini (size depends on your portion size)
  • 2-3 okras
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ground sumac
  • ground aleppo pepper (or cayenne)
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • a few leaves basil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a box grater or the shredder attachment on a mandoline, grate the zucchini into long, thin noodles. I like using the box grater on its side and sliding the zucchini lengthwise down it like a mandoline.  Dump the pieces into a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess liquid. Set that aside.

In a frying pan on medium heat, fry up a smashed clove of garlic in a few teaspoons of olive oil until it’s golden brown. Remove the garlic if you don’t like biting into a giant piece of garlic with your meal. Sprinkle in a shake of aleppo pepper and ground sumac.  Slice the okra into coins and toss into the pan with a pinch of salt.  After about a minute of stirring, put in the zucchini, another pinch of salt, a healthy shake of black pepper.  Stir for another minute to warm the zucchini noodles through, and turn off the heat.  This literally takes no time to cook since you don’t want the zucchini to get too mushy.

If you opted for the basil, cut the basil into thin shreds and sprinkle on top.  Transfer the whole thing onto a plate and top with slices of boiled egg. If boiled egg is not your thing, this would probably be good with a fried egg.  You can even wrap the whole thing in a taco if you want some carbs.