Vegetarian Caldo Verde

Disclaimer: I have never had the traditional version of this soup, so I don’t know if this tastes legit or not. What I do know is that it tastes good and is a welcome spin on the usual kale and potato stew that I’m a little sick of having.

Vegan caldo verde and broccoli romanesco from my garden.

With a few hours gained back while we sleep train Robin, Will and I started watching the latest season of Top Chef again.  In one episode, Emeril Lagasse surprises the contestants, who are returning from a hard day in the kitchen, by making them caldo verde for dinner.  It’s a Portuguese kale stew that usually has chorizo in it.  Since I love kale and I love chorizo, I thought I would veganize it for dinner one night.

The hardest part about making this vegan is the chorizo part. Since it’s Portuguese, I’m assuming the proper thing to use is Spanish chorizo, not the Mexican kind, but good luck finding a vegan version of Spanish chorizo in stores.  I approximated by buying seitan shaped like crumbled or ground meat and that was already seasoned with garlic and onion powder.  I wanted it to have more of a Spanish chorizo flavor, so I sauteed it with half a chopped onion, lots and lots of Spanish paprika, a healthy dash of cayenne pepper, ground aleppo pepper, ground sumac, more salt, and a glug of sherry vinegar.  When I tasted it, it still didn’t taste like Spanish chorizo, but hey, one can only go so far, right?

The soup also contained sliced onions, 2 cloves garlic, 3 chopped yukon gold potatoes, and kale. Lots and lots of kale. I may have gone overboard with the kale, but hey, it’s winter and kale is in season! I used a mixture of laccianato kale from my garden and redbor (aka purple) kale.  The redbor kale had such a fantastic texture in the stew.  Both crunchy and tender at the same time.  I bought it from “The Beards” at the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s market — that’s not really their farm’s name but I can never remember. They always have fantastic produce: sweet, ripe cantalope in summer, and tender, fresh kale in winter.

The soup only took about 45 mins to make and most of the work was me tweaking the taste of the vegetarian chorizo.  After the soup was done, I tasted it and thought, “Well, it’s good, but it’s not as good as I wanted it to be and certainly not as good as if there were real chorizo in it.” But when I got to the bottom of my bowl, maybe because the broth had a chance to cool off and the flavors melded more, but I liked it better.  It’s rich, spicy, smokey, and hearty — just what I wanted in a kale stew.

And if that wasn’t enough brassica for the meal, I served the stew with a side of broccoli romanesco mainly because I needed to harvest them from my garden before the heads started to bolt. I served them plainly steamed and tossed with a quick dressing I pounded in the mortar and pestle. The dressing was: preserved lemon, garlic, cilantro, salt, paprika, olive oil.

Hearty Wintry Stew

Will stayed home sick today from work, so I cooked him a hearty winter soup packed full of vitamins when I got home.  It was pretty easy to make since I already had some ingredients sitting around at home.



1 bunch collard greens

1 bunch swiss chard

1 onion

1 medium-sized carrot

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp aleppo pepper (optional)

half a lemon

1 can cannellini beans

2 cups broth

2 cups water

1 handful whatever leftover dried pasta is around

salt, pepper, and olive oil


In a soup pot, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom and put it on medium-low heat.  Dice the onion and put in the oil. Put in a pinch of salt and pepper and stir.  Do the same for the carrots which go in right after the onions. Stir and let them soften. In the meantime, wash the greens and separate the stems of the chard. Dice the chard stems into the same size as the carrots and onions and put them in and give them a stir.

While the onions, carrots, and stems are cooking down, wash and shake dry the rest of the greens. I separated the collards from their stems and discarded the stems. Roughly chop the leaves. They can be left pretty large since they shrink while cooking.

When the onions and stems are tender, throw in the rest of the leaves and give it a stir. Then put in the cayenne pepper, aleppo pepper (if you have it) and stir to combine. Once the leaves are wilted and tender, open the can of beans and pour that in, soaking liquid and all. I guess you can rinse the beans, but I think the liquid gives the soup a nice thickness.

Pour in the broth and water and stir to combine.  Put the pasta in, cover the pot, leaving the lid ajar so it doesn’t boil over, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is done. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, add more salt and pepper to taste, ladle into bowls and then serve with some crusty bread.  I had some cheese in the fridge, so I grated that over the soup.

I initially was going to put a teaspoon or so of tomato paste to brown with the onions to give the soup more flavor, but in retrospect that’s not needed at all. The chard stems and all the other vegetables already have plenty of flavor.

Dinner: Kimchi Jigae With Dduk

Dinner: Kimchi Jigae w/ ddukDinner was quick and warming tonight. I made kimchi jigae (kimchi soup), with pounded rice sticks called dduk. The kimchi was from the same batch we bought from the Korean market last month and it’s still as tasty. The dish could have used some green onion, but I didn’t have any on hand.

I love anything with kimchi in it, so I might be biased, but this dish is really good with super fermented kimchi. Like, “oh my god, is this turning into cheese?” fermented. Okay, maybe not that bad, but the kimchi should have a pungent sharp taste that’s almost carbonated. Usually the dish is made with pork belly, but since I wanted to make a vegan version, that sadly had to stay out.

The entire dish was very easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes. Here’s my vegan version:

  • Slice up 2-3 cloves of garlic and sautee in oil (I used peanut oil) for a few seconds.
  • Dump in however much Korean chili pepper flakes you want. The more the spicier. Let that cook for a few seconds until fragrant, but not burned.
  • Pour in 2.5 cups water.
  • Put in about a packed cup of chopped kimchi (more or less depending on how much you like it).
  • Throw in some roughly chopped silken tofu.
  • Put in the dduk (Korean rice cake), or leave it out.
  • Let everything come to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes so the tofu and dduk can absorb the flavor.
  • Final step: if you included dduk, the stew can be eaten as is. If you left it out, spoon it over some steamed rice.