Cultural Corner - Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde
Mmm, what a winter warmer

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 vegan caldo verde uses potato and kale to make a hearty yet 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 we’ll be giving you an insight into the cuisine and culture along with some delicious vegan recipes of the national favourites we encountered during our travels.

A little bit of history for you!

As big colonial power 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.

Cultural Corner - Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde
The happiest fruit and veg seller, Lisbon

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. In rural areas this still takes place and not a gram of meat is wasted. 

Even dishes characterized by veggies can have some form of meat or stock lurking in the background and in the most unlikely of places.

Unfortunately for us loving vegans this means eating traditional food in Portugal can prove problematic…”

For sweet dishes 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. Altogether this 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 vegan this means finding ethical dishes is hard work 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, this is why we’ve put our spin on one of the much loved classics and created a vegan caldo verde soup recipe – cruelty free, super scrummy and always staying authentic!

The Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde

Soup is a popular dish in Portugal and is served hot or cold all year round. The caldo verde, which means green soup, is originally from the Minho and Tras-os Montes regions in the north of Portugal. The soup was historically cooked on the fireplace in a big pot which also served the purpose of  warming the house!

Authentic caldo verde recipes combine 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 so we’ve come up with a vegan alternative. 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 birthdays 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. Some of these include hitting each other with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers, jumping over flames, releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons and eating 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!

Our Vegan Caldo Verde Creation!

Our travels in Portugal were awesome but we were bitterly disappointed to find very few vegan caldo verde options around the country. Eventually we found some vegan restaurants with the dish and it was easy to see 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, cheap and filling but also delicious and healthy so it’s a great way to warm up and fill up at lunch. If you’re serving this as a starter I suggest halving the recipe as the soup can be quite filling. Trying to keep this vegan caldo verde authentic the soup is garnished with a vegan chorizo sausage (Linda McCartney chorizo and red pepper sausages), which is optional but adds flavour 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 which means minimal fuss! As the days grow colder and nights grow 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

Pin this for later!

Check out Tuga Vegetal’s vegan Portuguese coconut bun recipe that works great with this soup recipe. If you want to try something sweet then make sure you check our popular Portuguese vegan honey, almond and orange cake – it’s delicious

Portuguese Vegan Caldo Verde Recipe

Ingredients :
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 180ºc, 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.

Onion and garlic is the base for this scrumptious soup as they are in many other Portuguese classics. To make the most of their flavors brown off the onion first and when  translucent add the garlic, stirring often to avoid burning.
Once the garlic is light brown and tasty aromas of onion and garlic fill the room it’s time to add the potato and stock.
Once the potato is cooked using the back of spoon squash the chunks in the pan, then add the kale and cook for a further 7 minutes or until the kale has wiltered.
When the kale has cooked its time to serve and enjoy!
Garnish with sausage (if you’re using it) and olive oil then tuck in

Let us know what you think of this recipe in the comments below and #veggievagabonds on instagram!

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