The story that led to the creation of this Paleo Portuguese Kale Soup comes – just like many other recipes on this site – from a travel tale and an encounter with a talented Chef I got to work with.
With this delicious kale soup called Caldo Verde, I take you to Portugal to discover its incredibly eclectic culinary tradition, influenced by the most diverse and exotic cultures around the world.
Chef Miguel Pereira loooves Lisbon. This is the city where he was born, the city where he grew up as a devoted Portuguese food lover, and the city where he learned how to give his favorite recipes a gourmet whiz, preparing them in some of the most exclusive hotels in the city.
He started off at the 5 star Pestana Palace twelve years ago, to then collect gastronomic experiences in many other beautiful resorts across the city. Now he’s the Sous Chef at Memmo Principe Real, working as the right arm of Executive Chef Vasco Lello, with whom he practices grafting the Portuguese culinary tradition with ethnic influences and fusion spins.
When I meet him on the sleek terrace of Memmo Principe Real, with its breathtaking view over the tiled covered walls of Lisbon, we immediately connect. He struggles a bit to express himself in English, but his passion for food and his enthusiasm for cooking overcome any linguistic barrier. And in a funny mixture of English, Italian and Portuguese (and a little bit of Google Translate too ;), we end up talking for an hour.
“I love traditional Portuguese food, because it allows me to experiment in the kitchen and mix different cultures and cuisines into my plates”. With these words, Chef Miguel proudly highlights the true essence of Portuguese food: an historical “melting pot” of culinary traditions, that dates all the way back to the Colonial era.
When the explorers of the 15th Century started sailing the oceans in search of new lands, Portugal witnessed a prolific contamination of new cultures and ingredients coming from the colonies in Macau, China and Goa, India; from Brazil as well as from African countries like Mozambique and Angola.
And this eclecticism is well reflected in the menu Chef Miguel wants us to redesign together: cassava chips as a starter (a Brazilian thing), the typical Portuguese kale soup Caldo Verde, followed by a fish curry dish inspired by Mozambique cuisine, and to finish a South American pudding made with tapioca pearls, mango and coconut, all ingredients typical from Brazil.
Caldo Verde is what he really wants us to start with: “You must try our typical kale soup – he tells me. – This is one of Lisbon’s most popular recipes, the dish you’d definitely find on a family’s table during their everyday life, as it’s simple to make and it only requires basic ingredients: onions, potatoes, kale and a little chorizo if you want.
Our goal is to turn “Caldo Verde” into a paleo Portuguese kale soup accessible to people with all sorts of dietary restrictions. Besides being free from gluten, dairy and grains, this paleo Caldo Verde is also free from nightshades, and suitable for those on the Autoimmune Protocol, as it replaces normal potatoes with sweet potatoes.
Try out this recipe next time you are in the mood for a healthy soup, and make sure to stay tuned for the rest of the Portuguese menu I designed with Chef Miguel!! You’ll be stunned by the amazing combination of flavors featured in his Paleo Bacalhau and delicious Tapioca & Mango Pudding.
Caldo Verde. Paleo Portuguese Kale Soup from the Chef at Memmo Lisbon (GF, DF, AIP)Ambra Torelli
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Onion chopped in big pieces
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 3 Cloves of Garlic sliced
- 1,5 lt Vegetables Stock or Bone Broth
- 2 Big Sweet Potatoes chopped in big pieces
- *1 Smoked Gluten Free Chorizo Sausage avoid if on the AIP as it contains paprika. Replace it with 2 slices of crumbled AIP compliant bacon to give your soup a salty crunch
- 500 gr Collard Greens or Kale finely chopped
- Sea Salt to taste
- In a big pan, heat up the olive oil and, when it starts to sizzle, add in the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Let the onions brown for a minute, then add in the chopped sweet potatoes, the broth and the whole chorizo (avoid if on the AIP). Boil on medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
- In the meantime, boil or sauté the collards or kale in olive oil, according to your preference.
- Remove the bay leaf and the chorizo from the soup and cut it into slices. Set aside.
- Blend all soup ingredients with a hand mixer or in a blender.
- Serve your Portuguese Paleo Kale Soup in 4 small bowls and top it with the cooked kale, a few slices of chorizo sausage (or bacon crumbs for those on the AIP) and a little bit of olive oil.
Did you love this recipe? Personally, I think I could start off all of my meals with a bowl of this flavorful Paleo Portuguese Kale Soup. And I can’t wait to remake it with some crispy prosciutto as a replacement of the traditional chorizo. What are your thoughts?
Let me know in a comment below and make sure to share this recipe on your Facebook and pin it recipe to you favorite Pinterest board so that you won’t lose it!
Big love from Lisbon, Portugal,
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra is a healthy recipe developer, food and travel writer with a passion for healthy living and wellness. She is the founder of 'Little Bites of Beauty" and the author of the cookbooks "Healthy Italian Desserts Made Simple" and "The AIP Italian Cookbook". She shares her daily food & travel adventures on her Instagram @LittleBitesofBeauty