Kale Soup (Sopa de Couves)




Serves 8 to 10

This soup is not a version of the deliciously delicate and classic Caldo Verde kale soup (Green Broth Soup) of the Portuguese mainland where a few slices of sausage are served as a garnish with more on the side.

This soup is a sumptuous meal in itself. This soup hits the spot on a cold winters night or after a long days work. Popular both on the Portuguese mainland as well as in the Azores, my father always added a yellow turnip, called rutabaga in some parts of North America, and a friend from central Portugal also adds some carrots as well, to this other classic Portuguese soup.

1 pound ( 2 ½ cups) dried red kidney beans soaked overnight in enough water to cover by 2 inches

3 pounds beef shinbone, trimmed of excess fat

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

12 cups water (3 quarts)

1 ½ cups cubed yellow turnip (rutabaga) (1-inch cubes)

½ pound salpicão or chouriço sausage

3 medium Maine, Red Bliss, or new potatoes, peeled and cut into I-inch cubes
(about 2½ to 3 cups)

1 to 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 14-inch slices (about 1 cup) (optional)

1/4 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper  (optional)

1/4 cup small pasta, such as elbow macaroni

1 bunch (1 1/2 pounds) fresh kale or collard greens, rinsed, trimmed of center rib and torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon coarse salt or to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper

  1. Drain and rinse the beans.
  2. In a 5-quart stock pot, place the beans, beef shin, onions, garlic, and bay leaf.  Pour in approximately 3 quarts of water or enough to cover the beef by about 1 inch.
    Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the beef and beans, occasionally skimming from the broth any impurities, for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. When the beans are very tender, remove about 1 cup to a small dish.  Mash the beans with a fork, adding some of the broth, then return the paste to the pot.
    (If you do not like bean skins floating in the broth, pass the beans through a food mill, sieve, or colander, adding some of the broth as necessary. The skins should be all that remains in the colander or food mill.  Return the beans to the pot.)
  4. Add the turnip to the pot. Return the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. If using salpicão, you may need to first trim a metal clip from one end of the sausage and the casing string from the other before cooking.  Add with the potatoes, carrots, and crushed red pepper. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are almost cooked, about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the pasta, kale, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the pot, and simmerfor about 15 to 20 minutes. Soup is ready when the pasta is done and the kale is tender.
  7. Remove the beef shin from the pot, trim away and discard any gristle and fat, along with the bone. Cut the meat into pieces. Remove the sausage from the pot and cut into chunks. If salpicão is used, peel and discard the casing before cutting sausage*. Serve the meat on the. side, as part of a second course, or return it to the pot and heat through. Serve hot with plenty of crusty bread to dip in the broth.

Tip: Adding the kale about 5 minutes before adding the pasta ensures tender kale and more al dente pasta, if that is your preference.

* Salpicão is the one sausage that (similar to a daisy roll), for some reason, needs to have the casing removed before serving. The reason seems to have been long forgotten; it is just one of those culinary quirks.

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