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Six O'Clock Solution: Simple green potato soup is a Portuguese classic

Caldo verde makes the most of seasonal vegetables and is a comforting dish for the cold days to come.

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A new cookbook by Ana Patuleia Ortins, a Massachusetts-based author of Portuguese descent, is rich in interesting ways to enjoy autumn vegetables such as carrots, kale, peppers, cabbage and, of course, potatoes. This soup, garnished with a slice of sausage (preferably chouriço or linguiça) is a staple in Portugal. The author, whose two previous cookbooks also focus on Portuguese cuisine, includes directions for how to chiffonade kale for this dish. The slicing technique might sound like a task for a professional chef, but Ortins makes it easy with recollections of how her father would stack kale leaves, tightly roll them up and chop them with a sharp knife into slivers “as if paring an apple.”

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A recipe for Portugal’s favourite red pepper paste is also included in this book, titled Portuguese Home Cooking (Interlink/Thomas Allen, $45) and beautifully photographed by Hiltrud Schulz. Often incorporated with Spanish cuisine, Portuguese cooking is distinctive, writes Ortins. If you want to make bacalhau, she provides detailed instructions for how to prepare the salted cod. All in all, it’s a user-friendly book filled with easy, lively recipes.

Caldo verde

Serves 6

5 medium baking potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 mL) coarse kosher salt, or to taste

8 ounces (250 g) flat-leaf kale or collard greens

5 tablespoons (75 mL) olive oil

4 ounces (125 g) chouriço or linguiça sausage*

*Substitute with smoked garlic-spiced pork sausage

Using a large, heavy saucepan, combine potatoes and onion in 6 cups (1.5 L) water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, season with salt and simmer until potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim kale of its thick centre stem at the back of the leaf. Wash well in cold water. Stack up several leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and use a sharp knife to cut across the bundle, creating very thin slivers no longer than 2 inches (5 cm). You should have 6 to 7 cups (1.5 L). Set aside.

When potatoes are cooked, purée contents of pot until smooth. Return to heat.

Add kale and olive oil, and simmer briefly until the kale is bright green and tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile brown sausage on all sides in a frying pan, drain and cut into ¼-inch (5 mm) slices.

Serve soup hot with a slice of sausage on each serving.

julianarmstrong1@gmail.com

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