While vacationing on Cape Cod, the family convinced me against my better judgement to eat lunch at a well-known pub whose nautical-themed name contained the word Ho! Riffing on this rather obvious pun, the creatively challenged menu writer found it amusing to label numerous items as Ho! Made. This became tiresome pretty much immediately. Sensing trouble, I steered away from the specials and set my sights on the Portuguese Kale Soup. Cape Cod has a large Portuguese population and many a restaurant cook in that part of the world is of Portuguese descent. This had to be the best possible choice.
You can see where this is going.
Ho! Made, indeed.
Someone in the kitchen had had a grand old time dumping the contents of various cans into a soup pot, and adding a couple of slices of anemic chourico. There was no question that this Ho! could do better.
This is not the authentic version studiously recreated by my high school chum David Leite from his mother’s recipe. (Read David’s hysterical account of learning her unwritten recipes at Leite’s Culinaria, here.) I’ve adapted his recipe a bit (duh), but I hope Mrs. Leite, a truly lovely lady, finds it acceptable.
Azorean Kale, Sausage, and Bean Soup
Based, with some liberties taken, on the recipe in The New Portuguese Table by David Leite
1 ¼ cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight (or while you are at work) in water to cover by 3 inches
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
12 ounces chourico or linguica, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used Wellshire Farms linguica)
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, smashed lightly with the flat blade of a knife or your fist
2 quarts homemade chicken stock, or 1 quart low-sodium store-bought broth and 1 quart water
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, sort of peeled (see photo) and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½ pound collard greens, center stems removed and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain the beans, and put them into a pot large enough to hold them. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving the bean water, and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the linguica and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the linguica with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the onions, carrots, and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the smashed garlic cloves and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the collards, linguica, and beans, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add some of the reserved bean water if you would like more liquid. If you prefer a thicker broth, you can puree a ladleful of beans with some of the stock and stir it in to the finished soup. David says to remove the bay leaf, but I leave it in. I pretend it’s good luck to be served the bay leaf, but what it really means is that you’ve annoyed the chef.
Note on potatoes: It’s an aesthetic choice, but also a safety choice, to cut flat pieces off the rounded sides of the potato instead of peeling. It gets most of the peel off, makes a flat surface for cutting (the potato, not your hand), and it’s easy to get nice, even cubes. I like that.