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.
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.