Fresh late-winter/early-spring vegetables at the Farmer’s Market combined with lingering cold temperatures make me think of soups featuring baby, hearty greens. I developed this particular soup last spring; its lingering memory made me eager to recreate it this year, with a few small variations. (Let’s just say I added too much beer last year. A coworker walked into the breakroom while I was reheating some for lunch and asked if I was drinking. She was disappointed to learn it was just soup.)
First, let’s cover the inspiration for this soup. On the one hand, we have frijoles borrachos, a simple and addictive Mexican dish featuring pinto beans simmered with onions, garlic, chiles, and beer. (A savory side dish that’s wonderful in its own right– try it as a side for enchiladas, (I’m getting really parenthetical here, but I promise I’ll post one of my many enchilada-appropriate sauces soon. )) On the other hand, Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese soup consisting of greens (usually kale) and spicy sausage (usually linguica), in broth, along with onions and garlic.
In this soup, I combine the two concepts into one satisfying bowl. I’ve subbed chard for the kale because the beautiful, baby rainbow chard leaves at the Farmer’s Market this weekend were irresistible.
Caldo Verde con Frijoles Borrachos
- 4 mildly spicy cured pork sausages, such as linguica or andouille
- 1 lb washed greens, such as kale or chard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 jalapenos
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 12 oz (a cup and a half) beer (preferably a Mexican lager)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups cooked pinto beans
- 1-2 cups water
- ground black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- Dice the sausage and render in the olive oil, over low heat, in a stock pot.
- Dice the onions and jalapeno and add to the sizzling sausage and oil with a bit of ground black pepper; saute until onions are clear.
- Mince the garlic and add to the pot; stir and cook briefly.
- Add the beer and turn up the heat until the liquid is slightly reduced.
- Add the chicken stock and beans. Add 1-2 cups water as well until desired soup consistency is reached.
- Dice the greens into bite-sized ribbons (be sure to include colorful stems, in the case of chard), and add.
- Simmer soup at least 20 minutes. Taste, and salt as necessary.
- Serve steaming bowls with hunks of fresh-baked bread.