In a country mad for soup, this easy recipe will tell you why. And there’s a sandwich to go along with it.
I’ve just come back from a wonderful trip to Portugal. I spent several days in Lisbon where I participated in an 18-course food tasting and ate myself silly on Pasteis de Nata, Portugal’s signature Custard pie. I promise that recipe this week. But first, here’s a soup and sandwich combination that easy and satisfying. I came right home and made it. Soup in Portugal is a very big deal. It’s a large part of providing the Portuguese with vegetables, which they don’t seem very keen on unless it’s in soups. Caldo Verde is one of the most popular of all. According to “Portugal: The Cookbook” by Leandro Carreira and Miguel Andrade (Phaedon 2022) it’s found from one end of the country to the other. It’s both highbrow and homey. But I bet you never thought you’d find it where it’s a star on the menu.
Soup is so popular in Portugal, McDonald’s sells no fewer than 4 varieties.
There’s Sopa Grão e Espinafres (Grain and Spinach Soup), Creme de Ervilhas (Cream of Pea), Crème de Legumes (Cream of Vegetables), and today’s recipe Caldo Verde, which literally translates to “Green Broth”. (The recipe says it’s made “with potatoes, chourico sausage, and thinly sliced kale or collard greens.” I made it with spinach as Kale doesn’t fly in our house. And I substituted Portuguese chouriço with Smoked Andouille from Trader Joe’s. And where did I learn to make it? Why aboard ship! The focus of the trip was the naming of Silversea Cruises’ 10th ship, Silver Dawn. Aboard ship, there’s the most innovative Culinary Arts Program at sea. It’s called S.A.L.T. (Sea And Land Taste) and it’s simply sensational. I’ve written so much about it that I’ll post links to those stories after these recipes. What was wonderful about these S.A.L.T. Labs classes was that our instructor, Carolina Gomes, is Portuguese!
And what else does McDonald’s sell only in Portugal? The McBifana!
Named for today’s sandwich, it’s pork served on crispy bread. The pork is marinated in the fridge and then quickly cooked in a skillet. The marinade is cooked down and poured over the pork. It gives the Bifana a mildly sour taste which accentuates the pork nicely. It’s the roll that makes the McBifana totally outside the familiar flavors of McDonald’s. The pork rests on two pieces of firm, distinctively European bread. Carolina told us the Portuguese are the original Party People. Things don’t really get going in its bars and clubs until after midnight. The Caldo Verde and Bifana are often eaten when the night wears down at about 4 A.M. I am not sure how this works since McDonald’s closes at 2 A.M. and doesn’t open till 11:30 A.M. so apparently they don’t get theirs at Mickey D’s. Here are today’s recipes and the links to S.A.L.T.
Caldo Verde, Portugal's Traditional Soup
This traditional Portuguese soup made with potatoes, chorico sausage, onions, and thinly sliced Kale or Collard Greens or Spinach is a humble soup served everywhere in Portugal
- 10 oz. or 300 g. of Kale, Collards or Spinach, stems discarded
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 to 7 cups (1.5 L) of water or vegetable or chicken broth
- 4 tbsp. Olive oil plus more for serving
- 4 slices of Portuguese Chorizo or Spanish Andouille Sausage
- Salt and Pepper
- Step 1 Start by cutting the greens. Stack the leaves, three at a time and roll them. Cut crosswise into very thin strips. Set aside.
- Step 2 In a large pot over medium heat, add 3 tbsp. of olive oil and cook the onions until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Step 3 Stir in the potatoes and add water or broth and bring to a boil.
- Step 4 Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer. Cook until the potatoes are very tender.
- Step 5 Mash the potatoes using a hand blender or potato masher until smooth.
- Step 6 Add the greens, stir and cook for a few minutes longer until the soup turns bright green. Do not overcook the greens. They should still be slightly crunchy.
- Step 7 Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 8 Remove from the heat, drizzle with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with Chorico or Andouille.
- 12 oz. or 60g thinly sliced pork, trimmed of fat (you can use top round, cutlets or boneless pork chops.
- 1 1/4 cups or 300nl white wine
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 papo seco or crusty rolls to serve.
- Yellow mustard or Piri Piri sauce to serve (optional)
- Step 1 Start by putting the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound it well with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin until it’s thin but not torn.
- Step 2 In a small bowl, stir together the wine, garlic, bay leaves, vinegar, paprika, and salt.
- Step 3 Add the pork slices to a shallow pan and pour the marinade on top. Stir, making sure the slices are submerged in the marinade. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Step 4 Remove the meat from the marinade and keep the marinade.
- Step 5 Heat a large skillet over medium-high until very hot, then add the olive oil. Fry the meat quickly until cooked through about 1 minute a side. Add more oil if the pan feels too dry. Transfer the cooked Bifanas to a plate.
- Step 6 Pour the reserved marinade into the skillet, discarding the bay leaves and scrape up any bits. Let the mixture boil until reduced by about a third, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Step 7 Add the bifanas back to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and simmer to warm them through.
- Step 8 Slice the papo secos in half. Spoon some of the sauce over each half, pile in the pork and if desired, serve with mustard and Piri Piri sauce