Making it a December to remember - traditions are not what they were but soup after Christmas is a must!
Christmas tends to be a time of excesses, even if it may be one of joy - sometimes it's not! This year I did not overindulge, as I was rather poorly, with a bit of stomache ache and all. Stress will do that you, and so I took it lightly, very lightly indeed, and I even managed to loose 100gr, which rather makes me laugh if I think about it. But Christmas tables are usually ladden with the richest and most filling delicacies, and we tend to grab something every time we pass the table.
Because I'm not a huge fan of sweets nor the traditional fried sweets of my country, my doom are the chocolates. I have specifically forbidden family members of gifting us more than one small box of chocolate each, because as long as there are bonbons on the table, I have difficulty controling myself. And I'm allergic to chocolate! With age, I have come to restrain myself to one bonbon a day over the Holidays, and it sure does help that I have a small child to educate foodwise as well, I don't want him eating chocolates and sweets by the handful. He loves his bonbons, too, you see.
But I do tend to give in to the savoury foods and indulge in savoury entrées over this season. We usually have a Christmas Eve dinner that is full of delicious food, a table ladden with choicy tidbits, and the tendency is to want to grab a piece of everything. This year was a bit different, seeing I was poorly, but we did have a turkey pie that was to die for - I love pies, even if they're not traditional of Christmas fare, it was turkey after all!! - a turkey broth for starters along with tiny rolls made of dough seasoned with herbs and cheese, a coffee caramel pudding for dessert, Bolo Rei and Panettone. There was no overindulging but it was all honest, good, homemade food except for the Bolo Rei, which was store bought by my mother in law. Christmas lunch was not much different, in the fact that there was also no gobbling mindlessly. I wouldn't have managed to, had I wanted it!
But because there's dessert at most meals over the Holidays, after Christmas one tends to long for something lighter during those days leading up to New Year's Eve. One tends to long for nourishing, vegetable filled soups, that are warm and light and comforting and filling, that can be joined by a slice of crusty, homemade redolent bread, along with a piece of fruit and a sweet or two for good measure. I always tend to crave soup in those days that lay between Christmas and New Year! And one of my favourite soups for this season has to be the very traditional, very portuguese Caldo Verde. This is such a simple soup, and I bet every household in Portugal has their own special recipe, but the one thing they all have in common is the use of collard greens, known in Portugal as couve galega. The soup can be runnier or thicker according to preferences, and is mostly cooked with good portuguese chouriços, eaten with broa de milho (a type of portuguese cornbread) and pipping hot!
For my version, I usually forgo the chouriço (I'm not a fan of boiled chouriços!) and use lemon instead. This is how I go about it:
- 500gr of finely julienned collard greens
- 4 to 5 potatoes on the large-ish side (depends wether you like thick or thin soups)
- one large onion
- one large carrot
- 1 litre water or vegetable stock or chocken stick