Monday, July 4, 2011

RECIPE - Caldo Verde, Take Three (Bambá de Couve)

Ouro Preto
For our final trip round the caldo verde table, we'd like to present a traditional soup from the historic baroque city of Ouro Preto (Black Gold) in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Nestled in a green, mountainous landscape, Ouro Preto was the fabulously wealthy focal point of Brazil's 18th century gold rush, and has been preserved in all its baroque glory, virtually unchanged, up to today. Its steep cobblestone streets that climb and descend the hillsides on which Ouro Preto is built, its over-the-top baroque churches with gilded altars and ceilings and its noble public squares have earned Ouro Preto a place in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

Ouro Preto's own local version of caldo verde, called bambá de couve, is served in many of Ouro Preto's charming small restaurants and inns, and is suitably warming on chilly evenings, frequent in this mountain city which sits at an altitude of almost 1200 meters (4000 ft). The soup has a charmingly poetic name, bambá de couve being best translated as "dance of kale" our "game of kale", and it's got the hearty, filling richness that a meal-in-a-bowl needs.

There are two major differences between bambá de couve and the other versions of caldo verde that we've been publishing recently here on Flavors of Brazil. The first is the presence of fresh eggs, which are poached separately then added to the soup, and the second is fubá, a cornmeal flour that is the Brazilian equivalent of polenta. These two ingredients add a substantiality to bambá de couve that creates a full-meal soup. All you need to add to the table are chunks of rustic, crusty bread and you have a perfect cold-weather meal.
RECIPE - Caldo Verde, Take Three (Bambá de Couve)
Serves 4

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 cups (1.5 liters) light chicken stock
salt to taste
3 Tbsp fubá (packaged polenta meal can be substituted)
1 cup cubed bacon, lightly packed
10 leaves kale, coarsely shredded by hand
4 whole eggs, free-range preferred
In a large heavy saucepan heat the bacon cubes over medium heat until they begin to render their fat, then add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is transparent but not browned and the bacon begins to crisp. Drain off excess bacon fat if desired. Add 3 cups water and bring to the simmering point.

Meanwhile, mix the fubá or polenta in the remaining 3 cups of cold water, and stir to completely moisten the meal. Add to the bacon, onion, garlic mixture in the saucepan, raise temperature slightly, and cook at a slow boil for 5 minutes or until the soup has thickened nicely. Correct for salt - you may not need any depending on the saltiness of the bacon. Add the shredded kale and keep the soup at the simmer point while you poach the eggs.

In a large frying pan or other device poach the four whole eggs according to your preferred method.

Divide the hot soup between four large soup plates. Place a poached egg on the top of each and serve immediately.

Recipe translated and adapted from Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.


  1. Congrats for your posts about Caldo Verde. Your pics are mouth watering!
    I usually make the one with cassava, bacon and chinese brocoli.
    Here in Australia I've never found the sort of kyle that we can get in Brasil so chinese brocolis does the job.


  2. That's a resourceful solution, Priscila. It's funny how absence makes the heart grow fonder, but the irony is that you can't find kale in Australian and I can't find chinese broccoli (which I love) here in Brazil. Oh, well...

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