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Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}

By Thedreamery

Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}A soup post while temperatures reach the 100’s may seem pretty ironic, but when there are so many greens growing in your garden, and you’re given even more by generous neighbors, you end up with an entire refrigerator shelf of collard greens you just can’t see go to waste. When the weather is so hot, I often lose the desire to cook, sometimes even cutting up vegetables for a salad as simple as this one seems like too much work. Does that happen to you too? So a light vegetable soup is my favorite way to enjoy summer produce on those days I don’t feel like cooking at all. Plus don’t they say you should eat hot food when you’re hot, so that you sweat, which in turn cools you off? It seems bogus because it doesn’t ever work for me, but I’ll go with it.Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}So yes, collard greens are booming right now! And yes, they are constantly being overlooked and pushed aside by their more famous cousin, kale. But for my fellow Portuguese, collards greens and cabbage are our kale. Boiled, I know how boring and bland, they’re one of our staple Christmas Eve dishes, but mostly they are used in soups. Let’s go back to soup in the summer…visit any traditional Portuguese household here in the states and just about every single home in the motherland, you will always find a large pot of soup made, and you will eat it for at least one of your meals. It’s just how it is. Especially if you live and own a farm, there is no wasting food, particularly during summer.

Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}
I always wondered why the English translation of Portugal’s famous dish, Caldo Verde, was Kale Soup. Traditionally we don’t use kale, it’s actually collards. But I guess because we call kale, collards, and any other thick greens just “couves,” I can see how collard greens soup, just became kale soup. I suppose kale soup is more appealing than collard soup, right? Don’t get me wrong, thick and dark green kale works just as well, but don’t go crazy swapping the greens for spinach because it just won’t be the same, especially since spinach takes seconds to wilt down.

Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}
Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}

If my grandmother saw me sautéing the vegetables before adding the water, she would disapprove, but I like giving the root vegetables a nice char to enhance their sweetness and give them just the right amount of subtle smokiness. Sautéing bay leaves is something I always do too, it simply releases their earthy flavors even more. But remember to remove them before pureeing. Then add fresh dried bay leaves once you add the shredded collards into your pureed base. 

This caldo verde recipe is much lighter and totally vegetarian, compared to the classic, which is made with a white potato puree base and most likely “chouriço” {chorizo}. The lather almost always prevents me from eating this beloved soup. I will admit, that if the soup was made by simply adding in the chouriço at the end, then I’ll push it aside and enjoy it, but some people, heavy meat eaters, will go as far as sauté the chouriço, or even pork belly, and the taste of smoky meat is just undeniable, and unbearable for vegetarians. So you know it was time I made a totally meat free version of this soup that still tastes like the dense rich caldo verde I love.
The puree base is made from my soup go-to’s: butternut squash, sweet potato, turnip and carrots, the staple ingredients is this soap da avo. They can often leave soup tasting slightly sweet, but it’s the perfect base for bitter collard greens. As my grandma would say, a final drizzle of olive oil helps to bring all the flavors together. It’s totally necessary, and not just for photos, it really does smooth everything out.
Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}
If you’ve had a bowl of classic caldo verde, I’ll assure you this lighter version tastes just as delicious, even without the meat. Although, you die hard meat eaters might not agree, so go ahead, add in all the chouriço your heart desires. Too add protein into this version of caldo verde, I love adding kidney beans just before serving, but feel free to use whichever variety you’d like or even cooked lentils.

Are you now convinced that soup during summer makes sense?

Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}
Vegetarian Caldo Verde {Portuguese Green Soup}

Vegetarian Caldo Verde

Ingredients {Serves 8}

1/2 medium – Butternut Squash {peeled + cubed into 1/2″ pieces}

1 large – Sweet Potato {peeled + cubed into 1/2″ pieces}

1/2 large or 1 medium – Turnip {peeled + cubed into 1/2″ pieces}

3 to 4 medium – Carrots {peeled + sliced into 1/2″ pieces}

1 – Garlic Clove {peeled + smashed}

6 – Dried Bay Leaves

2 tablespoons – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 cups – Water

about 3 large bunches {about 5 to 6 cups shredded} – Collard Greens {stems removed + shredded}

2 medium – Carrots {peeled + sliced into 1/2″ pieces}

Sea Salt + Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste


In a large saucepot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and three bay leaves, sauté until fragrant {about 2 minutes}. Add the carrots, squash, sweet potato, and turnip, and sauté until vegetables have slight char marks and begin to soften slightly {about 7 to 8 minutes}. Add the water, salt and pepper to taste, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, and cook until all the vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat, and remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the vegetables until smooth and completely blended. Taste base, season if necessary. Place back onto heat, add the collards, sliced carrots, and three bay leaves. Cook on medium heat until vegetables and soft {about 20 to 30 minutes}. Taste, and season if needed. Serve immediately. Refrigerate in an air tight container up to 1 week.

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