This vegan Portuguese caldo verde with cremini is the first dish my Macanese boyfriend cooked for me: a vegan adaptation of his mother’s traditional caldo verde. It’s a simple potato and greens soup, but he thoughtfully substituted cremini mushrooms instead of linguica sausage. It’s so delicious! I often ask him to make it for me, especially when I’m sick. It’s rustic, garlicky, wholesome, and makes my body feel good.
Being Macanese, his family moved from Portugal to the Macau-Hong Kong area about 600 years ago. While growing up, his mom cooked Macanese food, which became a hybrid of Portuguese and Hong Kong dishes. Another favorite I’d love to share here soon is his vegan Macanese curry using Japanese curry bricks and coconut milk.
His mom’s recipe for caldo verde has a surprising shortcut because she needed to cook efficiently for her seven kids. She used instant potatoes instead of diced potatoes. This way, the soup only simmers for 10 minutes, making it an easy weeknight dish. I was averse to using instant potatoes because that sounded processed, but discovered that Bob’s Red Mill makes a good quality version of “potato flakes” with only 1 ingredient: dehydrated potatoes. Go ahead and used diced potatoes if you wish, but the soup would then need to cook about 30 minutes or more.
His mom also sped up her process by using a bag of frozen spinach instead of collards or kale. Today I used fresh baby spinach, but feel free to use collards or kale if you prefer. Also, this might look like too much olive oil, but it makes up for the omission of linguica. Now that he taught me his technique, I can make it myself and won’t need to beg him to cook it for me all the time.
vegan portuguese caldo verde with cremini
3/4 cup olive oil
1 box cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups veg broth
3 cups water
150g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1.5 cups good quality “flaked potatoes” (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot. Slice the cremini mushrooms and sauté in the olive oil. When starting to soften, add the chopped onion. After 2 minutes, add the chopped garlic. Stir 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, water, and chopped fresh spinach. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes flakes and let simmer gently 10 minutes. Grind a generous amount of black pepper and taste for salt, which will depend on the saltiness of your veg broth. Serve with bread, ideally sourdough. Enjoy!