This Portuguese vegan caldo verde is really easy to create at home and deliciously tasty! A simple recipe that’s been a much loved favourite for centuries and for good reason. With a base of garlic and onion, this Potuguese vegan caldo verde uses potato and kale to make a hearty, healthy classic. So as those winter nights draw ever closer this wholesome soup is sure to warm your cockles.
In a land of avid fish and meat eaters Portugal can seem a bit daunting to the ethical eater. Are you fed up of missing out on regional specialities and traditional dishes? Yup, us too, that’s why Portugal is our Region of the Month and we’ll be giving you an insight into the cuisine and culture along with some delicious vegan recipes of the national favourites.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out one of the country’s highlights Peneda-Geres National Park!
As an ex-colony country Portugal had links to Goa, Macau, Angola, Mozambique, Cabo, Brazil and Malacca (Malaysia). Because of this the Portuguese had access to spices from all over the globe and can be found in their varied cuisine. Black pepper, saffron, vanilla, cinnamon and chillies (found in the famous piri piri seasoning) are all spices which ordinarily wouldn’t be found in Europe at the time. The Portuguese also traditionally use a lot of garlic and olive oil in their cooking. Having all these exotic spices meant that Portuguese food never lacked flavour.
Despite Portugal not being involved in the Second World War they were still affected by Food shortages. Combined with the poverty that impacted the country under the rule of President Salazar meant the Portuguese had to be resourceful in the kitchen. When using expensive ingredients like meat or fish the Portuguese got creative and didn’t let anything go to waste. Dishes would primarily be vegetable-based but would contain some form of meat with nothing being wasted. Feijoada trasmontana, a bean stew, has a variety of meats added for good measure such as pig hocks, knuckles or ears! In the olden days and still in rural areas families raise their own livestock and are sure to use of every gram of meat. This means that even dishes characterized mainly by veggies can have some form of meat or stock lurking in the background.
Portuguese cooking is distinctly meat and egg based and when it comes to sweet treats it’s a similar story. Both the Romans and the Moors, who both ruled Portugal, had a love for eggs in their cooking. Later, as Catholicism spread across the country, many of the monks and nuns were paid by the poor in the form of chickens and eggs. This has caused a long lasting passion for eggy cuisine!
To be blunt, Portuguese food is not “vegan friendly”, nor has it ever been. Therefore, unfortunately for us loving vegans, eating traditional food in Portugal can prove problematic and it’s no surprise to find a bit of sausage floating in your soup. With a country that is so rich in culture and proud of their culinary heritage, it would be a huge shame to miss out! So, here’s our take on some Portuguese classics with a Veggie Vagabond tweak! Cruelty free, super scrummy and always staying authentic!
Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde
Soup is a popular dish in Portugal and is served hot or cold all year round. One of the most traditional Portuguese soups is Caldo Verde, which means green soup. Originally from the Minho and Tras-os Montes region in the North of Portugal, it was historically cooked on the fireplace in a big pot. This served the purpose of cooking the soup and also warming the house! Caldo verde combines; potatoes, kale, olive oil, garlic and salt. Linguica or chourico (pork sausage spiced with paprika, garlic, chillies and salt), is sometimes added towards the end of cooking. Traditionally a few slices would be added for flavour and because people couldn’t afford to add any more than that.
Often served at celebrations such as birthday’s and weddings, Caldo Verde is most famously served at Festa de São João do Porto (The feast of St. John party in Porto) every June. Thousands of people flock to Porto on the night of June 23rd to celebrate and pay tribute to Saint John the Baptist in a party of sacred traditions. The festival has been held in the city for more than six centuries and one interesting tradition still practised today is for people to hit each other with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. Other traditional activities include; music and dancing in the streets, jumping over flames, releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons and eating barbecued sardines and caldo verde. The festivities can often continue in to the early hours the following morning with people dancing and playing music in the streets until dawn.
We were eager to try caldo verde but disappointed to find very few vegan versions of the dish in Portugal. Eventually we found some vegan restaurants with the dish and found out why it’s been a Portuguese favourite for centuries. When we left Portugal we still wanted to enjoy this tasty classic so we decided to recreate it at home. It’s a simple and cheap recipe and its also quite healthy, especially if you follow our recipe. We made enough for two large bowls which filled us up for lunch. If you’re serving this as a starter I suggest halving the recipe as the soup can be quite filling. Trying to keep it authentic the soup is garnished with a vegan chorizo sausage (Linda McCartney chorizo and red pepper sausages), which is optional but adds flavor and keeps the soup as traditional as possible.
This soup is really tasty with strong flavors of onion and garlic, perfect to keep those autumn colds at bay. It’s a simple recipe and only requires one bowl so minimal fuss! As the days grow colder and nights grown longer this soup is a perfect warming dish to enjoy whilst cosied up with some comfy socks on – sublime! Let us know what you think of this recipe in the comments below and tag us #veggievagabonds on instagram
Check out Tuga Vegetal’s vegan Portuguese coconut bun recipe that works great with this soup recipe. Plus if you want to find out more about vegan Portuguese food, then check out Heart of a Vagabond’s post here for a vegan culinary exploration.
Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde Recipe
1 white onion
6 cloves of average sized garlic
Olive oil (for frying and a drizzle to garnish)
Vegetable stock (I use Kallo because it’s organic, has no MSG and uses less salt than regular stock cubes)
2 average sized potatoes (roughly 300g)
500g of kale
1.5 litres of boiling water
Optional: 1 Linda McCartney chorizo sausage
1. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a low heat and slice the onions into strips.
2. Once the pan is hot add the onions and some salt and stir until they become translucent.
3. Crush or slice the garlic, I suggest crushing as it releases the more of the flavour and add to the pan stirring often.
4. Chop the potatoes into cubes and once the onions and garlic have browned slightly add to the pan along with the boiling water.
5. Add the vegetable stock and salt and pepper as desired. Allow the potatoes to soften stirring occasionally.
6. (If you are adding in the sausage now is the time to put them in to the oven on 180 degrees, make sure you turn the sausages over halfway through)
7. After about 20 minutes the potatoes should soften, using the back side of the spoon crush the potatoes in the pan.
8. Add the kale stirring occasionally allowing all of the ingredients to infuse.
9. After about 7 minutes the kale should be cooked.
10. To serve pour into two bowls. If you’re adding the sausage chop it up into slices and garnish each bowl then drizzle with olive oil.
Let us know what you think of this recipe in the comments below and #veggievagabonds on instagram!