Dining Tip: Melissa Perello's Spicy Bean and Chorizo Soup

Upgrade your weeknight dinner with fragrant spices and satisfying ingredients
Dining Tip: Melissa Perello's Spicy Bean and Chorizo Soup
Proof that comfort food can be refined, and pair well with a good glass of wine. (Evi Abeler)
Apr 29, 2019

Note: This recipe originally appeared in the May 31, 2019 issue of Wine Spectator, "Rich Past, Bright Future." Get your copy, on newsstands now!

Melissa Perello puts her personal stamp on caldo verde, a hearty Portuguese soup, with personal touches that reflect her California independence. She uses Spanish chorizo instead of Portuguese linguiça, and adds tomatoes, jalapeños, sweet spices and cilantro. The result is a unique, stewlike soup that’s great by itself or topped with poached or sunny-side-up eggs. Perello has served it in her restaurants as a special, and makes it often for an easy supper at home, where it goes nicely with a glass of Vinho Verde or Albariño. This reheats well, the flavors deepening after a day or three.

Caldo Verde

• 2 cups dried butter beans (also called white lima beans)
• 1 jalapeño pepper
• 4 large red tomatoes, cored
• 2 large Meyer lemons, halved, plus more for finishing
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline
• 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
• 4 ounces dry chorizo, thinly sliced and then chopped
• 2 bunches lacinato kale, destemmed, washed and cut into thin ribbons
• 1 bunch parsley, including stems, washed and chopped, 1/2 cup reserved separately for garnish
• 1 bunch cilantro, including stems, washed and chopped, 1/2 cup reserved separately for garnish
• 6 cups chicken broth
• Salt

1. Cook the beans according to the package directions and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately.

2. Heat a grill. Place jalapeño, tomatoes and lemon halves on the grill, cut-side down. Remove the lemon when the flesh is blistered. Turn jalapeño and tomatoes occasionally until the tomatoes are blistered and the jalapeño is blackened all over. Remove from the grill. Place jalapeño in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to steam for 30 minutes.

3. Wearing plastic gloves, rub the skin off the jalapeño. Remove the seeds, discard the stem and chop the flesh. Set aside.

4. Heat a small skillet over medium-low. Toast the coriander, fennel and cumin seeds until just fragrant. Grind the seeds in a spice mill or blender. Mix with smoked paprika and set aside.

5. In a large pot, heat the oil over low. Add the garlic and cook, stirring continuously, until the garlic begins to fry, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, chorizo, jalapeño and spices. Sweat over low heat until the onions are tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Add the kale, parsley and cilantro, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and lemon halves. Simmer gently for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the flavors are melded.

7. Remove and discard the lemon halves. Remove the tomatoes, chop or smash them and return them to the soup. Add the beans, and season with salt and additional lemon juice to taste. Add the remaining sliced herbs just before serving. Serves 8 to 10 generously.

Cooking

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