15 May 2011

Merguez & a little Cardo Verde (Portuguese Soup)

Another month and another Charcutepalooza challenge.  Last month's hot smoking seems an age ago as I was on holiday in the mother country and Europe enjoying a few weeks being a lady of leisure.  A few weeks back in the real world and it seems like it was so long ago.  It doesn't take too long to get back in to the rhythm of day to day life and for holidays to become an ever more distant memory.  I feel ready for another holiday, which sadly will have to wait for quite some time short of winning lotto or some other such fantastical windfall! In the mean time on to this month's Charcutepalooza challenge...

This month was sausages and who doesn't love a good sausage.  And I mean a good sausage, not Cheerios New Zealand! A bizarre little sausage that is so popular here in NZ.  I just can't understand the appeal of them.  I think maybe you have to be born here to appreciate them and that it is some how inbuilt in to your DNA!  Cheerios for the non Kiwis are often to be found at childrens' parties and are little sausages covered in some sort of bright red coating, and I mean bright red.  According to their website they are "finely minced pork and beef, lightly seasoned and naturally woodsmoked for a quality flavour and taste.  Filled into a distinctive red casing" I haven't been brave enough yet to give one a go! 
But back to the good ones; the aroma of sausages frying and then popped in a fresh roll, with maybe a few fried onions, a little ketchup and you have one of life's very satisfying little pleasures.  Juicy and literally bursting with flavour, that pop when you bite in to them to release their meaty goodness.

And there are so many options a spicy chorizo, sweet fennel, Bratwurst, Toulouse, Italian, Cumberland, Lincolnshire. An infinite number of combinations.  I was tempted to try the chorizo, and that will be next up, but decided on merguez.  Not a sausage I am overly familiar with but the combination of lamb, roasted red peppers, paprika, a little garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes to give a little heat was just so appealing.

A little time required, yes, but not difficult and they are most definitely worth the effort and giving you that feeling of satisfaction you get from making something from scratch. It also allowed my to give the meat grinder for my new baby Kitchen Aid a run.  I foresee many more sausages and burgers in the future.  Barbecuing next Summer is going to be a whole new adventure.  For all things sausage and Charcutepalooza you should check out Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.  

These sausages were so full of flavour and so succulent.  Though there really never was any risk of them drying out given the amount of pork back fat in there, but my goodness it makes for one amazing sausage and hey it's all natural. You can really taste the lamb which is sweetened by the roasted red peppers and then a layer of sweet spice from the paprika and then just a smidgen of heat from the chilli flakes. Like the bacon, the brining and the hot smoking doing it yourself is quite revelationary producing food that is just simply superlative to just about anything you could buy.

What to concoct with my sausages?  I came across a recipe for Portuguese Soup, Caldo Verde, on a recent Cuisine newsletter and this is slightly adapted from there.  I used some of my merguez mix and rolled them in to little meatballs.

Caldo Verde - Portuguese Soup with Potato, Merguez and Greens

Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium - large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic,  finely chopped
3 spicy sausages sliced, or  180g spicy sausage meat rolled in to small balls.
6 small potatoes, large dice.  I used waxy little Perlas
1 litre chicken stock, homemade or if bought use low sodium so that you can season to taste yourself.
3-4 cups chopped greens, I used kale, cavalo nero, spinach and swiss chard
Salt and pepper to taste 

A little more iPhone v camera.


In a large heavy based saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt, and saute for a few minutes until they are translucent, 5-10 minutes.  Add the sausage or meat balls and cook until they are browned.

Add the potatoes and the stock and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost cooked through.  Add the greens and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Camera: Amazing what a little softening of the shadows can do!

A simple, rustic Autumnal lunch perfect with a some crusty bread to dunk and soak up all the soup.  The broth is meaty and nourishing from the meat balls, comforting potato and the goodness of all those greens, a whole meal in a bowl.



  1. Congratulations on the Kitchen Aid! ;-) I'm looking at the new VitaMix - it seems like something I'd definitely have use for.
    This soup sounds so so tasty!

  2. Thanks Maria, yes love my Kitchen Aid, she's a beauty :)

  3. Mairi, where did you get the cavolo nero? :-)

  4. What perfect shapes they are, mine always curl! Love the sound of that soup, perfect for this cold Sunday evening.

  5. Thanks Alli - sausage stuffer on my Kitchen Aid :)
    Hi Alessandra....they were in my vege box, but they also have it at Huckleberry Farms, just on Greenlane. :)

  6. Mairi, for right now I am just living vicariously through you! I still have not made any bacon or corned beef - my work schedule is killing me and the stress caused by my white-trash boss is too much to bear. But, I intend to do it as soon as I come back from BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta!
    Those merguez sausages look divine! I have a Caldo Verde recipe bookmarked, and it might be time to make it:)
    I am trying to imagine those NZ red sausages and all I can do is laugh! I guess you have to be there to get it:)

  7. Mairi, this is amazing! And believe me, cheerios are the work of the devil, no matter what that website says. Woodsmoke? Pah! Have you heard the urban legends about families who used to have cheerio soup (the poisonous red cooking water) while their Dad ate all the cheerios? I reckon they got off lightly!

  8. Oh so envious - I am so far behind in charcutepalooza, since my kitchen pretty much blew apart, just after I had made my first batch of bacon. In fact I hardly got to eat any of my bacon - most of it perished sitting in the freezer for a month with no power - ick, need I say more. Planning to come back from trip in early July and have a charcutepalooza field day catching up on all the challenges so far - should be good time round about then to be cool enough for the duck prosciutto :-)

    Meanwhile, your merguez saugsages look amazing and this soup sounds wonderful too.

    Sue xo

  9. My Mum made that soup for me when I went to visit her in Portugal as she was living there for awhile and it was lovely. Ive been wanting to recreate it at home and you just reminded me of that!!! I am going to defintly try out your recipe.

  10. Well impressed with the sausages, glad you are
    Having such a blast with your new baby:)

  11. Soup and casserole are going to be our next menus at the Winter table. Love your photos!

  12. Beautiful. Have I told you lately I love your blog? Also, your photos...iphone or otherwise. You have a great eye.

    Kim xo

  13. This soup looks gorgeous - healthy, heartwarming, hearty... and I'm always impressed with what you turn out for your Charcutepalooza posts!

    ps. I'm loving the iphone/camera side-by-sides :)

  14. Thanks everyone for such lovely comments, really does make my day :)

    And happy to hear you are enjoying my photographic journey.

    Lana - enjoy BlogHer & hope work gets better too!

    Sue - have an amazing trip :)


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