I managed to get roughly 15-18 medium sized collard leaves after “de-bugging” them from the earlier purchase, here. The obvious use might have been slowly stewed collards with some salt pork, but actually the sound of that wasn’t too appealing to me. So I went on the hunt for alternative recipes. I found a couple of references to a Portuguese soup called Caldo Verde (literally “hot greens”) and I figured I could make a pretty decent version with the ingredients we had in the fridge and larder, so a Caldo Verde it would be.
But first a little detour. My paternal grandmother was a native of Mactan, and in our younger years, on summer vacations spent with “Lola”, she would mention that we had to be tough and determined, as we were likely descendants of Lapu-Lapu, the dude man that killed Magellan 500+ years ago. It would be easy to dismiss such an assertion without say, DNA proof, but actually, considering that there might have only been a few hundred or thousand at most locals on the island of Mactan in the 1500’s, if my lola’s family had ALWAYS hailed from the island, there was indeed a good chance we were somehow related to the Magellan slayer. And since few recall that Magellan was in fact Portuguese, not Spanish, another interesting tidbit comes into play. On my maternal side, a curious uncle and respected academic has apparently traced the family tree on that side of the family back to a Portuguese ancestor in the 17th or 16th century or so. Probably some randy galleon deck hand without ready access to latex, though I don’t wish to offend, so I will quote the official family line that the ancestor was probably a trader or merchant. :) Hence, with my rare bounty of collards, I decided to try a Portuguese soup in honor of the ancestors, both slayers and slayees.
This is pauper food. Comforting, delicious pauper food. I have brought it up a few notches with the addition of some ingredients but essentially, it is true to its origins. First, I threw a ham bone from the freezer into a stock pot and boiled it for an hour or so to make a ham stock (others use chicken stock). Next I sauteed some sliced onions and garlic in some olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Do not burn the garlic, just bring it to the slightly golden color before adding in the ham stock. Next add a couple or more sliced (small thin slices) potatoes and boil them until tender, say 15-20 minutes. I then added some sliced leftover ham, several cups of collards, several cups of napa cabbage (I didn’t think I had enough collards), some red pepper flakes, some chopped Italian parsley, and seasoned the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Add some sliced chorizo at the last minute. The collards only need a few minutes to cook. Serve the soup hot for a hearty meal in a bowl, or add a slice of country bread to make it more filling. This was delicious. The soup had depth of flavor and body that isn’t common in something that took less than half an hour to make. The greens are very heatlhy, the stock a little less so due to the fat from the ham, but overall this was incredibly satisfying, easy to make and delicious to eat.