By Maria Pereira and Jodi Lewchuk
This recipe is merely a guideline for making sopa de couves. Not only every island and village, but also every family in the Azores, has their own version of this soup. Use more or less water to achieve a consistency you like, and use more or less of any other ingredient according to your taste. Experiment and determine your own favourite way of preparing this well-known and versatile Portuguese dish.
Makes 6 servings
In a large pot, bring about 4 inches of water to a boil. Add dried beans and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and cover. Allow beans to soak for at least 1 hour. Drain the beans; set aside. (Note: Alternately, substitute 1 can of romano beans, drained and rinsed, adding them to the soup with the reserved chouriço in step 4, below.)
Meanwhile, place chouriço links in a medium saucepan and cover them with water. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat and cook the chouriço gently for 10 minutes, occasionally skimming off any scum. Remove chouriço to a cutting board. When the chouriço is cool enough to handle, slice the links into large chunks; set aside.
In a Dutch oven or stockpot, add onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, oil and reserved beans. Add cold water to cover ingredients by about 2 inches. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender and beans are soft, about 45 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the greens and pasta, if using. Simmer uncovered until greens are tender and pasta is cooked, about 7 minutes. Add the sliced chouriço and cook just until it is heated through. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper as required. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkling of mint and a drizzle of olive oil.