St Patrick’s Day dish with a twist: Bacon and cabbage the Portuguese way

Now is the beginning of wild garlic season, their wide waxy leaves beginning to unfurl

Caldo verde is a comforting Portuguese soup of potatoes, leafy greens and chorizo. It’s the perfect way to salute our traditional bacon and cabbage this St Patrick’s Day. I’ve added local Irish ingredients such as leeks and wild garlic.

I often fry off slices of chorizo and serve them over potato and leek soup. This version is like a mix of all of these recipes. You could alternatively add torn slow-cooked ham for some salty smoky flavour.

Caldo verde has travelled all over the world with its people and is a very traditional, nostalgic dish in Brazil too, due to Portuguese settlers. The smoky sweet paprika provides just what the usual potato and leek soup is missing. It's so good with the sweet leeks, I had to include them here.

Traditionally cabbage or greens are finely shredded so they’re like long noodles in the soup, achieved by rolling up each leaf and chiffonading it thinly. I’ve used some slightly bitter green kale here, it’s all balanced well. Some versions of this soup leave all of the ingredients unmixed, a broth with each ingredient distinctive. I like to blitz it all up slightly, though, to make it a thicker creamy soup. I reserve some of the just-cooked cubes of potato for texture.


Traditionally, a Portuguese choricou is used; it’s slightly more garlicky than chorizo. So do add some garlic, if you want. I’ve used a few leaves of fresh wild garlic to ramp up the flavour.

Now is the beginning of wild garlic season, their wide waxy leaves are beginning to unfurl in damp, shadowy woodland areas, sprouting up in clumps near streams. Soon their multi-belled white flowers will make them more distinctive.

Typically the leaves are used to make pesto but they have so many uses. This time of year, I just add wild garlic to everything that requires a subtle allium scent. It’s a very distinctive garlic smell and taste.

The plant is often confused with the three-cornered leek that has straight thin leaves and a single white flower. Three-cornered leek has a more definite onion/leek taste and smell and is found almost everywhere around Ireland, whereas the wild garlic must be sought out. Foraging for a precious local ingredient is a great way to celebrate this StPatrick's Day and your reward will be this warming bowl of soup in return.

Recipe: Caldo verde with wild garlic