Easy Vegan Caldo Verde Recipe

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Inspired by my grandma’s recipe, this easy vegan caldo verde – green soup in Portuguese – is a deeply comforting and nourishing soup ready in 45 minutes, made from curly kale and waxy Yukon gold potatoes.

This veganized caldo verde, or Portuguese green soup, is inspired by my grandma’s recipe!

If you’re looking for a budget friendly, simple and nourishing meal, this humble Portuguese green soup recipe is IT. You only need a few basic ingredients to make it, like kale, Yukon gold potatoes and a metric ton of onion and garlic (just kidding…but kind of not!) 

I mean, there is nothing better than soup, AKA the original one pot dinner, to lift your spirits and fill your belly. It doesn’t matter how bad your day was, or how miserable the weather, a good soup will fix you up, at least temporarily. 

I grew up eating caldo verde, or Portuguese green soup, with a piece of crusty bread on the side, so it is something I crave deeply. And yep, I was probably destined to become a dietitian because I’ve been eating leafy greens since childhood! 

I’ve included a veganized Portuguese recipe in each of my cookbooks to honour my grandmother because it was in her kitchen and garden that I fell in love with food…and this recipe is from my newest book, Plant Magic, which is out NOW (this is not a drill! Grab your copy!)

My mother’s family immigrated from Portugal in 1959 and so my childhood menu was a 50:50 mix of traditional Portuguese dishes such as caldo verde and feijao assado (baked kidney beans) and well, Shake ‘n Bake. Many of the traditional meals I grew up eating were essentially plant-based recipes, as the foundation of my grandparents’ diet was always the food they grew in their garden. 

Every family has a different way of making these traditional dishes, but this one is as close as it gets to my grandmother’s original recipe…my mom agrees!! When you’re making soup from simple ingredients, there are a few things you need to know: one, DON’T skimp on the olive oil and salt; two, give everything a little more time to cook so it brings out the best in each ingredient. 

First, let’s talk ingredients

Because you’re essentially making this vegan caldo verde from four vegetables – kale, onion, garlic and potato – and a couple of helpers, each one contributes a lot to the flavour and texture of the soup! 

All you need is kale, onion, potato and garlic – plus a couple of pantry staples!

Greens: Caldo verde is traditionally made with couve galega, a kale variety that is somewhere between kale and collards…my grandpa used to grow it with seeds he brought with him when he immigrated to Canada! I’ve seen a lot of North American recipes that recommend you use collard greens here but I found that supermarket collard greens are a bit too bitter for this soup. Curly kale works better in my opinion. 

Yukon Gold potatoes: my grandmother always used waxy yellow potatoes for the soup, which don’t break down as much as Russet potatoes because you still want those nice chunks of potato. However, she used to cook her soup a bit longer, which helped the starches break down a bit more to create that cloudy broth. I cheat a bit here and use an immersion blender to blend just a bit of it so you can have it ready in 45 minutes. She always peeled potatoes but I never do…they have a thin skin, and it’s packed with fibre!

Olive Oil: I don’t want to say that extra virgin olive oil is non-negotiable, but it has a lot of flavour so A) if you use less, the soup will be less flavourful and B) if you use a different oil, the soup will also be less flavourful. Which is fine…but you might want to bump up this next ingredient below.

Better than Bouillon: my grandma made her soup from water, not broth, but she often cooked a bit of sausage in the pot first to give it some flavour…since this is a vegan version, I found that adding just a bit of Better than Bouillon chicken flavoured concentrate helped it taste just like hers. If you’re gluten free, you can use gluten free veggie bouillon cubes instead!

How to make this easy vegan caldo verde recipe, step by step

Before we get started, hot tip: make sure you cut everything small enough!

You want the kale, onion and potatoes to fit on your spoon nicely. My grandmother used to gather up the huge bunch of greens in her hand (NOT on a cutting board) and chip them into tiny pieces directly into the pot with a paring knife. I haven’t yet earned my grandma cooking badge, so instead, I slice my kale leaves into 1-2 inch (2.5 – 5 cm) strips and then finely chop those strips.

Step One: saute the onions in olive oil until translucent and glossy, then add the potatoes and garlic and salt liberally. Don’t skimp on the oil (or salt!) here. It’s necessary for body and flavour: you’re making a soup out of 4 vegetables!

Chop (or chip!) that kale super fine or you’ll have to fight with giant pieces on your spoon.

you don’t want the onions to brown, just get them nice and glossy

add the potatoes and garlic and cook for a minute, then salt generously.

Step Two: Add the water, salt, bay leaf and bouillon concentrate. Bring to a boil and then let the potatoes simmer until tender, about 8-12 minutes.

Step Three: remove the bay leaf and then puree about ⅓ – ½ of the broth with an immersion blender. You’re not trying to make a thick stew, so don’t overdo it: puree just enough so the broth looks silky and cloudy but it’s still soup-like.

Step Four: add the kale and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed and serve!

next, you’ll cook the potatoes until they’re fork tender

next, you’ll puree the a third to half the soup to build the silky broth

NOW is when the soup gets green. let that kale simmer for 5 minutes and your ready

PS…if you want to serve with vegan sausage, just slice and fry it up as the soup cooks. It’s meant to be a garnish, but if you want to up the protein here, go ahead and use a lot.

More delicious vegan soup recipes:

Vegan Green Cabbage Soup with Potato

Hearty Mushroom and Barley Soup

Veggie-packed Navy Bean Soup

Vegan Carrot, Lentil and Ginger Soup

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Easy Vegan Caldo Verde Recipe

Inspired by my grandma’s recipe, this easy vegan caldo verde – green soup in Portuguese – is a deeply comforting and nourishing soup ready in 45 minutes, made from curly kale and waxy Yukon gold potatoes.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Portuguese
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword kale, potato, Soup
Dietary Preference dairy free, Gluten-Free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes minutes
Total Time 40 minutes minutes
Servings 6 servings

Equipment

immersion blender or you could use a regular blender or bullet!

Ingredients

cup extra virgin olive oil don’t skimp here! see note in blog2 medium yellow onions diced1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes unpeeled, cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes5 cloves garlic finely chopped8 cups water2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetarian chicken concentrate or 2 gluten free bouillon cubes, if needed1 ¼ teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning 1 dried bay leaf2 bunches curly or Portuguese kale about 1/2 pound, finely choppedfreshly cracked pepper

Optional, for garnish or to boost protein

1 link vegan sausage use 2-3 links if you want more protein

Instructions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Turn heat down if onion browning, you don’t want that.
Add garlic and potatoes and stir constantly, for one minute. Season well with salt and pepper.
Pour in water, add bouillon, salt and bay leaf and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes just fork tender, about 8-12 minutes.
Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and puree about one-third of the soup using an immersion blender. Return to heat, add kale and simmer for 5 minute, until kale is softened. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Traditionally, caldo verde is served with a few pieces of fried sausage. To do this, slice a vegan sausage into ½ inch (1 cm) slices on the diagonal. Fry in a drizzle of oil until both sides are browned, about 2-3 minutes a side.
Soup will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container or up to a month in the freezer.

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