Tuscany, Portugal and the Azores both have a long tradition for kale soup. Tuscan kale soup has a very Italian approach with heavy handed garlic, white beans and fire toasted bread that leaves the kale playing as a second fiddle flavor. Portuguese and Azores kale soup focuses on the kale itself.
The only major difference between the two is that in the Azores they leave the kale and the individual components whole. The Portuguese version of the soup is blended with a basic blender or an immersion stick blender. In all honesty I prefer the Azores version of this soup where all the components are whole. When I’m making the Portuguese version I prefer to remove half of the soup to a large work then puree what’s left in the pot. Afterward I add the chunks back in to give me the best of both worlds.
Whether you like it with whole components or pureed, this soup is incredibly nutritious and makes a great appetizer or main course.
Sourcing a quality chorizo is also important to this recipe. The reality is most of the chorizo you find at the grocery store is loaded with chemical preservatives and other overly processed pig parts. Your best chances at finding a quality chorizo is to seek out a full service butcher or find a butcher in a Latin American community that moves a high volume of the sausage.
For the traditional recipe you want to use the classic original red chorizo which is made from coarse ground pork, smoked paprika, garlic and other seasonings. Fresh red chorizo actually works better for this recipe than cured or dried.
Green chorizo is another interesting option. Green chorizo is typically a sausage you only find in Latin America. It is made from coarse ground pork that has been blended with vegetables like kale, spinach and sometimes tomatillos. While green chorizo is not a traditional ingredient in kale soup it is an interesting substitution.
Personally I think it’s worth it to experiment with green chorizo in this recipe, I would make the classic version first just to get a feel for it. Then I’d try the green chorizo version as an appetizer course at a dinner party featuring a Latin American main course.
Large sauce pot
Immersion stick blender
Large work bowl
4 cups of Kale washed, stems removed and cut into bite sized chunks
1 large red onion, diced
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 chorizo sausages, sliced down the middle and cut into half inch pieces
2 spears of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon of saffron threads
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
8 cups of chicken broth
Juice from 1 lemon
Here is how to make the authentic Portuguese Kale Soup Recipe:
Step 1: Grind the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle then bloom in a half cup of water.
Step 2: Add the coconut oil to a large sauce pot over medium-low heat. When the oil shimmers add the onions, carrots and celery. Sweat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions start to take on a little color, then add the chorizo chunks and garlic. Sweat the garlic for 2 to 3 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
Step 3: Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the saffron water, sweet potatoes, cumin, turmeric and smoked paprika. Reduce the heat to low, cover and allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the sweet potato chunks are just starting to soften.
Step 4: Add the pieces of kale to the pot along with the black pepper. Lid and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the kale is thoroughly wilted and the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Step 5: Use a slotted spoon to remove half of the chunks of the soup to a large work bowl.
Step 6: Turn the pot at a 45 degree angle and use a stick blender to puree the other half of the soup. Then add the chunks from the large work bowl back to the main pot.
Step 7: Cover and pot and remove from the heat. Allow it to sit for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the residual heat to rewarm all of the soup. Then serve immediately.