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Gourmet 10/76 / Soups

Caldo Verde

The joke that I always make is that the most used feature of any food blog is the “Jump to Recipe” button. Seriously, this soup is delicious and in my case I was able to make it with what I had on hand here in my apartment. But I don’t have a lot to say about it, so if you’re tired of hearing everyone’s stay-at-home stories I’d urge to use that link and head directly to the recipe without prejudice.


Today marks the start of my third work week at home – although I was in the studio a for a few hours a couple weeks ago. It is weird to think about it in terms of weeks, although the great orange buffoon yesterday finally admitted that this will not be over by Easter and that we should plan on staying in place until the end of April, which is more than four weeks away at this point.

All things considered, things are good. My wife hasn’t changed her hectic schedule (if nothing else she’s working more than she was before). As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, it is nice that she’s doing all this work from home so I get to see her. This is definitely the longest uninterrupted period of time that we have had together that I can remember, probably since we met. We have an open plan apartment (literally the only doors that close are the bathrooms) so this also means that I spend a lot of my day with headphones on to block out the sound of my wife’s back to back Zoom calls.

The most exciting thing that happened this week was the fact that our CCSA Fair Shares resumed operations (as I wrote about here) which means that I have access to fresh food once a week without going to the regular grocery store, a venue of which I am currently terrified. I am looking forward to all the spring veggies which I can eat knowing that I am also helping my local food ecosystem which is in tatters due to the pandemic.

And the weather! It is really starting to feel like spring. It is 59° this morning which is a little cool but that’s not stopping me from having the windows open. The fresh air is glorious. A couple days last week we hit the mid-70s, so I put on shorts, straw fedora, and warm-tint sunglasses, before spending happy hour drinking classic daiquiris on my balcony, pretending I was in Cuba. Sadly I am now out of limes.

My wife and Trixie physically distancing at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO.

Each evening my wife and I have blocked out an hour to take our dog Trixie on a long walk, usually from our place down to the Arch and back in order to get our blood moving and to keep Trixie fit. For me it is a nice way to separate the “work day” from daily happy hour which generally begins as soon as we get back from our walk. Suffice it to say that we have been drinking a good bit more than usual lately. I have been attempting to maintain my work-at-home best practices from when I as a freelancer, which means that I don’t allow myself to watch TV during the day and I avoid having a drink with lunch even though both of those are usually very tempting.

The interesting thing about our evening walks is that we’ve been trying to alter our routes each day, taking different turns, different blocks, and different streets. As a result we have gotten to get to know our neighborhood a little better. The architecture in downtown St. Louis is varied and beautiful, and spending some time examining buildings we see every day has been very interesting for us. Seeing as nearly 100% of the buildings downtown used to be something else, it is fun to imagine what they were like when there were first built. It is crazy to think that most of the buildings pre-date the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak. Back then St. Louis stepped up and dramatically slowed the spread of Spanish Flu while other cities did not, and as a result had the lowest death rate in the country. I’m hoping that despite the government short-comings our citizens can work together again this time around.

In any case, here are a few notes about the soup: this recipe is part of my Gourmet 10/76 project from a lengthy article on travel in Goa. Goa is a state in western India that was colonized by the Portuguese for a few hundred years until 1961 when it was annexed by India. As a result there is a lot of Portuguese influence in the food, hence the Caldo Verde. This is a very simple soup which I’ve always made with spinach or kale, but the dill is a really excellent alternative.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe which basically is just boiling all of the ingredients together. I found that sautéing the onions and garlic before simmering the potatoes softened the hard edges of the flavors and added some depth.

The recipe calls for four potatoes without specifying size or type. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes in my soup (as opposed to russets, for example) because I like the texture. I made the assumption that Gourmet was talking about regular size potatoes, and since the Yukon Golds I usually buy are on the small size I went with 8 small potatoes instead of 4 regular sized potatoes. What the hell is regular size? I dunno, I’m just guessing. Call it two and a half pounds or so. If you have more or less, no big deal.

Also keep in mind that the recipe calls for a whole cup of packed dill – this is a LOT of dill. You’ll need a least two of those plastic packets of fresh dill that you can find at the supermarket. And the bacon? The original recipe calls for three pieces of bacon – I’d use at least four, but why not go five? You can never have too much bacon!

This one is pretty simple and I would make it again. Even better, depending on your situation you may have all of the ingredients on hand like I did.

Enjoy and stay safe out there!

Potatoes, onions, dill, garlic and bacon, which are the ingredients for Caldo Verde.

Caldo Verde

Traditional Potato and Dill Soup from Goa

Ingredients

  • 3 tb olive oil
  • 1 onion minced
  • 12 cloves garlic minced
  • lbs yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced, see Note½
  • 1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1 cup dill snipped and packed
  • lb bacon (3-5 slices or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high. When hot, sauté the onion until translucent, but avoid browning it. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute until fragrant, then add the potatoes along with five cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  
  • Add the dill and simmer for 15 minutes more. 
  • While the soup is cooking, add three pieces of bacon to a cold skillet, and cook over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain. 
  • Once the soup is cooked, transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree, then return the puree to the pan. Alternatively, use a hand blender directly in the pan, but make sure to leave lots of chunks of potato. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Serve in warm bowls with bacon crumbled on top. 

Notes

Note: 2.5 lbs of potatoes is roughly eight smallish potatoes or four larger potatoes as the original recipe calls for. Just guess – this isn’t critical. 
This recipe was adapted from the October 1976 issue of Gourmet Magazine and is part of my Gourmet 10/76 Project. Click here to read more!

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