Ohhhhhh! New England is a beautiful area to visit during the summer months. The weather is right, the ocean breeze is cool, the flowers are striking, seafood is at its freshest, and the area has a Northern European look and feel.
From Boston to Cape Cod to the Vinyard, there’s plenty for everyone, from fine dining and shopping to even Alpaca Farms. For the culture and history buffs like me, it is a treasure trove as this is where all things U.S. began. The small fishing towns are charming, secluded, inviting and relatively unspoiled by extreme commercialization. One can only imagine what these small fishing villages looked like when the settlers just arrived and decided to stay for good. In any event, life here goes on as usual, but with great style and lots of flavor! One added bonus, people are hospitable and down to earth –what a treat!
The memories of aromas and flavors of mouthwatering chowders and soups, lobster rolls, raw little necks and Wellfleet oysters, steamed mussels, clam and lobster bakes, keep playing in my mind. During my stay, I sampled as much as I could and soon realized that the food here may have changed very little over time and has remained relatively traditional and rustic as it might have been at the beginning and yet still surprinsingly unspoiled by the food revolution going on everywhere else. And, what a joy was to learn that despite the obvious European influences, I became more aware of an influece little spoken of with a connection to Latin America and to its cuisine.
Many know that the Portuguese came to the New World (notably before Columbus) and to Latin America through Brazil, but few may realize that they also came to New England and have had a significant presence there for over 200 years, in fact, it is the fastest growing culture in the area. Portuguese cuisine is ancient and was adapted to the U.S. by the settlers. In contrast, in Latin America, Portuguese cuisine merged with native Brazilian cuisine and produced a very interesting twist, too. I found cuisine of Portuguese origin in New England to resemble some Brazilian dishes, but with a touch of Cajun. That is the case of a soup that I had at a restaurant at the town of Orleans, arguably the best soup in town. Because the soup was so delicious, I couldn’t let it go into oblivion, and thought that you might enjoy it too. It will certainly come in handy especially during the cold Minnesota months. However, in Orleans the soup is availaible in the summer, so I encourage you to enjoy it once, twice and as many times as you wish year round!! Buen Provecho! Amalia (www.cookparty.com)
Recipe of the Month
Portuguese Kale Soup
Inspired by the Orleans soup, this is my quick version for you to prepare at home. It can be a dinner starter, or because of its chunky nature and abundant ingredients and balance, it can be the main meal. Serve alone or with crackers.
1 lb. Linguica (Portuguese sausage), sliced
1 1/2 cups Spanish (or yellow onions), small dice
3/4 cup celery, small dice
1 cup green bell pepper, small dice
3/4 tsp. dry thyme
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 12 oz. can stewed tomatoes, small dice
1 lb. fresh kale, juliened
1/2 quart beef stock, fat free, low sodium
1 12 oz. can V-8 juice
1 1/2 cups red kidney beans, canned, rinsed
1 cup potato 1/2-inch cubes, cooked
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Render the sausage fat in a heavy bottomed medium pot over low heat for about 5 minutes. Gradually add the rest of the vegetables and saute each one for about 2 minutes, starting with the onion, followed by the celery, then the bell pepper, the thyme and bay leaf, the garlic and the stewed tomatoes, and lastly the kale. Season.
Add the beef stock and the V-8 juice, followed by the kidney beans and lastly the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Allow flavors to blend by simmering the soup over low heat for 20-30 minutes. If simmering longer than 30 minutes, add the potatoes 15-20 minutes before serving to keep them from falling apart in the soup.
Alternatively make this soup in your crockpot starting by sauteing the fresh ingredients as indicated on paragraph one and then combine all ingredients (except the potatoes) in the crock pot. The longer this soup simmers, the better the flavors and mouthfeel. Always taste the soup right before serving and further adjust the seasonings, if needed.