Portugal is a place we continue to return to as a couple.
This summer, our fourth trip, was spent first of all in the remote central hills near the village of Nagozela. We spent a week in a converted barn making ventures out into the countryside, vinyards and small towns of Luso, Treviso amongst others.
The hotter days (and I mean hot – our visit came during the tail end of the horrific forest fires a little further south) were spent walking on the Ecopisto, a former railway now salvaged as a walking/cycling track networked extensively all over this part of the country and watching hawks dive for water on our (almost) private river beach.
There are many things I brought back from Portugal this summer. Some wonderful colheita for a future toast, an armageddon’s worth of tinned sprats, sardines and octopus and fond memories of familiar Portuguese classics.
Caldo Verde, the national dish of pork sausage and kale soup is ubiquitous on menus all over the country. As guarded and cherished a favourite it is I also appreciate its simplicity – good simple things from the larder cooked well. And that is why I feel slightly less guilty than perhaps I should about posting this vamp(bastardisation of!?) on the original tonight. I made a riff on it with what I had in the fridge.
PORK AND KALE SOUP (NOT CALDO VERDE)
This recipe is based on the leftovers of my larder the week following several weekends entertaining friends and family. The basic principles are highly adaptable.
Desculpe meus amigos portugueses!
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)
- 450g bone in pork ribs or trimmings
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100g chorizo, diced
- 1/2 cup sherry or white wine
- kale and parsley stalks
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 onions, one quartered, one sliced
- 1 baking potato, peeled and diced.
- 2 pepper corns
- extra virgin olive oil
- 200g finely sliced kale
- sea salt
- Heat a large cast iron stew pot over a medium heat and add 3 tbsp olive oil.
- Season your ribs or trimmings well with salt and add to the pan. Sear well on all sides then remove. Deglaze with the sherry or wine then return the pork to the pan along with the quartered onion, 1 garlic clove, peppercorns, bay leaves and stalks.
- Add the stock and enough water to cover the contents of the pan by 1 inch and simmer for 2 hours.
- Strain the contents, reserving the liquid. Strip the pork from the bone.
- Return the cast iron pan to the heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the chorizo and sliced onion. Sweat until the onion is translucent. Then add the potato, shredded pork and garlic. Continue to sweat, stirring regularly for 2 minutes.
- Add the strained liquid back into the pan and simmer gently for 40 minutes.
- Add the kale and simmer for 5 final minutes. Ladle into bowls and dress with more extra virgin olive oil.