If the mainland's caldo verde is an uptown kale soup, then this Azorean version is definitely its downtown cousin. It's a more rugged dish. This is my mom's recipe, which she's been making for almost 50 years. What I like about it, and what my mother always insists on, is that it has a sizable amount of chouriço -- not the miserly single slice of caldo verde.
The New Portuguese Table
by David Leite
1. Drain the beans, dump them into a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender but hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Dump in the chouriço and cook until crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Fish out the slices with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pot. If, on the other hand, the pot is dry, drizzle in more oil. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until deeply golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust the heat to prevent the onions from burning. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more.
3. Pour in the beef stock and 5 cups of water, add the potatoes, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (If the beans haven't finished cooking, remove the soup from the heat. Continue when the beans are tender.)
4. While the soup is simmering, spoon a third of the beans and a bit of the soup liquid into a food processor and pulse to make a loose paste, then pass the paste through a sieve. This gives the dish extra body without errant bean skins floating in your soup. It’s entirely optional but, I think, preferable. When the potatoes are cooked, stir in the collards, cooked chouriço, bean paste, and the beans. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste, and ladle into warm bowls.
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Reprinted with permission from The New Portuguese Table by David Leite. Copyright 2009, Clarkson Potter. Photography by Nuno Correia