Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winter Vegetables and Caldo Vermelho

As usual, on Monday, I made a beeline for a certain produce stall at Mirepoix market. It only sells locally grown vegetables but, more to the point, here's where you can snap up the unusual. It's the only source I know of for parsnips, for instance. I've seen bunches of cilantro there too. Monday, the selection included yellow turnips, green cauliflowers, huge black and crimson radishes and vividly coloured chard.

The chard I bought was so darkly red, it verged on black. Its stems were a mix of deep gold and scarlet, like the kind of sunset you see on vintage Hawaiian postcards.

Back home, I sautéed a chopped onion and a garlic clove in olive oil, then added three potatoes cut into small cubes and enough water to cover them. While the mixture was coming to the boil, I cubed an end of chorizo, added that and simmered everything for 15 minutes. Next I mashed some of the potato against the sides of the pot to thicken the soup. Finally, in went shredded chard--leaves and stems--which I left to cook for another seven or eight minutes.

In Portugal, where it's the national soup, this is called caldo verde but this version was a deep warming red, so the name caldo vermelho (vermilion) seems more appropriate.

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