Jim and I were making Caldo Verde, a Portuguese soup, to take to Jim's parents' place for Thanksgiving. The beans were on, the onions were in, Jim was rinsing and tearing the kale, and I was slicing the chorizo--the dry kind, from Spain--more thinly than I usually do so that 14 diners could all perceive a satsifying amount of sausage in their bowls.
"Please don't cut the fat out," said Jim. "I figure I paid for that fat."
He was eluding to the habit I'd developed, when making the soup by myself, of using the tip of a paring knife to extract whatever globules of fat I could from the chunks of chorizo.
What about the casing, I asked? I usually peel it off. He said he'd paid for that, too.
I can't say I noticed that our full-fat soup tasted any different from my lightened version, and I realize that the amount of fat I typically remove is likely neglible. So back home, making the soup alone this week, I did it Jim's way, except for the casing.
Though my obsessive/compulsive side kind of missed the delicate task of fat extraction, the process of sausage prep went a lot faster.
When it came time to do the kale, Jim's words leapt to mind: "I paid for that, too." So shouldn't I use the kale stems instead of dumping them? I thought about chopping them and adding them to the soup, but there were plenty of kale leaves in there, so I bagged them and stuck them in the freezer.
One of these days I'll throw them into a vegetable stock pot, or maybe chop them and use them as the chicken replacement in mock chicken rice soup. I tried that once, and it wasn't bad.
You can find many versions of Caldo Verde online; here's mine:
Portuguese Kale Soup (from Carol Ames and Philippe Perebinossoff)
1 pound of pea beans (or navy)
10 cups of water
1 pound of sausage or less (I use one package of spicy Spanish chorizo, around 8 oz), sliced if you like
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound of kale
2 cups of chopped potatoes
salt and pepper if you like
Bring water to boil with beans. Add onion and sausage, and simmer 2-3 hours. Tear kale leaves from stems, and add them about 3/4 to 1 hour before the soup will be done. Then add the potatoes, and finish cooking.