Portuguese Kale Soup was something my grandmother would make every week. There is the crazy idea out there that eating nourishing foods is either too expensive or takes too long to cook, but this is a recipe that defies both of those myths. This soup is a great way to use up the leftovers from a roast chicken, and get the most for your money. At the same time, it is delicious, pure comfort food.
Portuguese Kale Soup
Every Portuguese restaurant and Portuguese grandmother will have their own take on what goes into kale soup. Some people add kidney beans, but my grandma didn’t. Most recipes add some diced tomatoes, but I never cared for the texture. So, I leave them out. Some add potatoes, others add rice. And while olive oil would be more authentic, I prefer butter.
One of the key ingredients is chourico, which is a spicy Portuguese sausage. It comes in regular and extra spicy. Chourico has a lot of flavor packed into it, and is responsible for most of the unique flavor in the soup. You could actually leave out the chicken stock entirely and just use plain water, and the flavor and fats from the chourico would be enough to make a good soup.
Unless you have a Portuguese community nearby, chourico may be tough to find. Chourizo is a Spanish sausage with a similar taste, and easier to find nationally. If all else fails, look for any spicy sausage, especially if it’s on sale. It won’t be really be “Portuguese” anymore, but it will still be delicious.
The other star ingredient here is kale. Kale is easy to grow, but also dirt cheap to buy at the store. The kale you grow at home will be superior to store-bought kale, but it’s a remarkably frugal choice for a powerhouse of nutrients. Kale needs to be cooked in order to make it’s nutrients more bioavailable, so using it in a soup is perfect.
How to Make Portuguese Kale Soup
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 Links Chourico, sliced
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1 cup chicken, cooked and chopped
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2lb to 1lb of fresh kale
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the butter in a dutch oven or a stock pot.
- Chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pot.
- While cooking the onions and garlic, slice the chourico. Add it to the pot.
- Allow mixture to cook on medium for another 5 minutes.
- Add the water, chicken stock, potatoes, and the chopped, cooked chicken.
- Separate the leaves from the kale, and roughly chop the leaves.
- Add kale, bay leaves, and S&P to the pot.
- Allow to cook on low heat, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
- The soup should be done, but test that carrots and potatoes are soft, or that the rice is cooked.
Please note: You may need to add extra water, as some of it will evaporate while cooking.
Serves 4, although I could just eat the entire pot myself over the course of the day (and sometimes do). If you add kidney beans, it will go further.
Everything calculated here is based on current prices at our local grocery store or wholesale club. Growing your own veggies and making your own butter lowers the cost. I treat items that are leftovers/byproducts of other meals as not having an additional cost, so as to not count them twice. The same goes for herb/spices that pantry items, used to make many dishes.
- 1 Tablespoon butter : $0.25, package of unsalted from pastured cows
- 1 onion: $0.63, bag of organic onions from wholesale club
- 2 garlic cloves, Too small to calculate from large braid of garlic
- 2 Links Chourico: $5, 8-pack from wholesale club
- 4 cups of water, Too small to calculate
- 4 cups of chicken stock, Byproduct of previously roasted chicken
- Chopped, cooked chicken, Leftovers
- 2 potatoes, $0.20 from bag of either organic potatoes from wholesale club
- Kale: $0.68, 1 bunch from grocery store
- Bay leaves, Herbs/Spices
- Salt & pepper to taste Herbs/Spices
Total cost to make this soup utilizing leftovers and pantry items: $6.76
My grandmother made hers a little differently. She used chicken legs and would boil them right along with everything else, making the chicken stock as she make the soup. I roast a chicken twice a week, and make stock from the carcasses. I’ll make soup from the fresh stock, put the carcass with more water in for a second run in the crockpot, and I pressure can the extra stock.
When I need to make this in a hurry, I skip the onion, and garlic. I slice the chourico, heat it up in the pot to brown the edges, and then add the water. While waiting for it to come up to a boil, I chop up the carrots, kale, and left over chicken, and dump them in as well. After that I’ll add a quart jar of broth from my pantry and the kale. If any extra water needs to be added, I’ll add it at this point. Cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, it’s done.
The photo above is of a recent batch I made. I threw in some carrots that aren’t really traditional to the recipe, but I love them. I had run out of potatoes the day I made this, so I threw in a 1/2 cup of quinoa instead (those are the little rice-like things in the photo). This was the last bowl left, and I snatched it for a photo before it was scarfed down like the rest. Thanks to my husband and son, there was no chourico left in it! The moral of this photo is, however, use what’s in your pantry. The chourico (or chourizo) and kale are what make this soup.