I’ve had a few weeks of Riverbend Gardens weekly CSA veggie program. I’m only one guy so I thought I could do more that could be easily frozen to eat later. Being into September, we’re getting the inevitable cooling of the air which lends itself to soups and other great things that signal a shift from summer to autumn. This past week’s vegetable haul from Riverbend involved potatoes and kale. My first thought was a Portuguese soup called Caldo Verde. It’s a soup that has as many variations as Portuguese folks have mothers. I’m not of that background, but over the years I’ve read my fair share of recipes from around the world. This recipe traditionally can be with chorizo, or left vegetarian; can be with or without carrots. I opted for a simple vegetable version when I also had a couple of dozen oysters land in my lap. The wonders of working at Ocean Odyssey Inland sometimes. Ha!
(On a side note, the first guy to discover oysters must’ve been really hungry. Or accused of witchcraft. “Hey guys, check out what happens when I bash open this rock!!” “He’s a witch!! Burn him!!!”…..but I digress…..here’s my lunch from earlier today…
Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato Kale Soup) with Crispy Malpeque Oyster Skewers
For the soup:
1 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics canola oil
1 large Riverbend Gardens red onion, chopped into rough 1cm(1/2″) dice
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilli
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups Riverbend Gardens potatoes (purple or yellow), unpeeled, cut into 2cm(1″) pieces
4 cups water
1 bunch (about 4 cups firmly packed) Riverbend Gardens kale, tough stem removed and leaves coarsely chopped or torn
1 tsp, each, salt and pepper (or to taste)
In a large pot, sauté the onions in oil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until softened. About 5-7 minutes. Add the dried chilli and sauté for a further minute or two.
Add the stock, water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale and simmer, covered, for another 25-30 minutes. When the soup is done simmering, season with salt and pepper to taste. As the soup simmers prepare the oysters.
For the Crispy Malpeque Oyster Skewers:
2 dozen Malpeque oysters (or other large oyster variety)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp, each, ground cumin, dried oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper
1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics canola oil, for shallow frying.
Bamboo skewers for presentation
Shuck the oysters from their shell with an oyster knife, reserving the liquid in a separate bowl.
Combine the cornmeal and spices in a small bowl. Dredge the shucked oyster meat in the spiced cornmeal, pressing the cornmeal on each oyster firmly. Place on a plate and allow the coating to rest for at least 15 minutes before frying.
Preheat the oil over medium high heat until a small leaf of kale, when placed in the oil, cracks and sizzles immediately. Fry the cornmeal-coated oysters for 45-60 seconds on one side, then another 30 seconds on the other side. Remove from the pan and allow to drain on paper towels.
Thread three Crispy Malpeque Oysters on each skewer. Lay two prepared skewers on the edge of four bowls. Stir in the reserved oyster liquid into the soup, then ladle even amounts into each bowl. Serves 4.