Savoy Cabbage and Potato Soup, with beefed-up vegetable stock and chilli

The title of this post ain’t going to grab much attention. Seriously? A cabbage and potato soup? Oh yes, this is what I couldn’t quite get enough of any time I’ve travelled to Lisbon…Caldo Verde. Last year I tried researching for an authentic recipe online and gave up purely as there was no consistency with the recipes (partly as there are so many regional variations) and no spices used. Well, the Caldo verde I’ve had was always nicely spicy. Now that I’m positively in love with the green finger chillies with a Scoville heat rating of 50,000 I can now buy I’m really enjoying using them, and looking forward to updating certain spicier recipes within my blog. No, I won’t be going with new posts about them. Coming back to this soup, the heat was just right! At last. Something so basic as a decent chilli can make such a difference.

I’m going to include having this with those thin and spicy Polish kabano sausages I’ve posted about before as I’d thought of using them. As I was supposed to be cooking my chicken roulade wrapped in streaky bacon this weekend as it’s so cold again I didn’t buy the sausages. If anything this doesn’t really need them. Still, when I make this again I will be using them. Especially as I’m having this as a main course. Which is why I’ve gone with so many potatoes. These soups were never served with masses of either potato nor cabbage within the thin soup itself. So, my ratios for both are a little exaggerated. Go for how much you have to hand. As for my lunch I just went for a sliced hard-boiled egg on Oktoberfest bread toasted and lightly buttered. With two bowls of soup this really hit the spot!

Savoy Cabbage and Potato Soup, with beefed-up vegetable stock and chilli



  • 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, halved, peeled, trimmed and cut into halves again
  • up to 200g (7.05 oz) x carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 80g (2.82 oz) x outer leaves of a Savoy cabbage, only non damaged used and any blemishes removed, soaked in salted cold water for about 30 minutes and well rinsed, roughly shredded
  • 3 x celery stalks/ribs, washed trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 6 x garlic cloves, root end cut off, peeled and kept whole
  • 2 x dried bay leaves, split
  • 10 x juniper berries
  • 1 x pinch cayenne pepper OR 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water


  • up to 400g (14.10 oz) x organic salad potatoes (I’ve used Nicola), scrubbed, with blemishes removed and either cut into discs or chunks
  • about 260g (9.17 oz) x Savoy cabbage, heart only, shredded and rinsed if necessary
  • 1 x green finger chilli (Scoville heat rating 50,000), washed and cut in half
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • thin and spicy Polish kabano sausages – optional

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Add all of the stock ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I generally prepare this the night before and simmer for up to an hour, then turn off heat. The following day I put it back on heat almost to a mild simmer before straining. When poached strain through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, remove the garlic and bay leaf pieces and set those aside. With the back of a large metal serving spoon press the vegetables to extract as much liquid and nutrients as possible. I started off with the cabbage leaves, then the remaining vegetables. Then pour the stock through a fine wire metal sieve into a measuring jug and if there’s less than 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) just add enough water to gain that amount. Return the stock to the saucepan with the garlic and bay leaf pieces.
  • After preparing the potatoes add those to the stock along with the chilli and put back on heat No 4 with a lid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to N 2 and simmer. In the meantime prepare the cabbage and add those after the heat has been turned down as they cook considerably quicker. Continue to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Remove the bay leaf pieces and chilli before serving. And do taste for any needed freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.


All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


  1. Love it! Quite similar to caldo verde, which as you are quite right to say would always be fairly thin, the addition of chilli is spot on. I think I will try this with the chilli suggestion and Portuguese chourico, which I have in the fridge, in lieu of kabanos (although I have some in the freezer). Interesting addition of juniper to the stock – must try. Also, can you tell me more about your Oktoberfest bread? I was there about 8 years ago, a friend served wonderful local bread with caraway, carrots and rye, but I have never perfected the recipe to produce anything so divine,so always striving for ways to get closer. Thanks.


    • – Thank you so much for reminding me about the differences in caldo and sopa. It’s so long ago since I’ve been there! Yes, the soup I had in several restaurants was a thin broth, without meat, and cabbage rather than kale. However, there are loads of regional variations throughout Portugal, none of which I’ve had as I’ve only ever supped this in Lisbon. I’m now wondering if the chourico you’ve mentioned is spicy like chorizo as that might be why the soup is spiced in Lisbon (presumably with piri piri) in lieu of the sausage. Off course, I’d like this with beef sausages!
      – As for the Oktoberfest bread, that’s baked within the store itself and doesn’t have any ingredients listed. I’m afraid I can’t help you there. Although, the one I buy doesn’t have caraway. It’s probably part rye which is why I like it so much. I’ve just had more tonight with cream cheese, fresh parsley, poached egg and baked beans. Odd but really nice combination 🙂


    • – Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if I’m the one that should be proffering tips!
      – As I’m sure you’ll have noticed I tend to take photos on the diagonal, but that’s partly to do with so little space. As for setting up I use grid on camera to help with thirds but very seldom rely on them. Instead, learn about The Golden Rectangle if you haven’t already. I prefer portrait and always use natural south-facing light. Normally I go with groups of 3’s and 5’s, if there’s space. For exposure I set camera to SPOT rather than ESP, then depress shutter on the brightest spot and then, on timer, I move camera on its tripod to compose. The most important element, of course, is the food itself. If that doesn’t look appealing there’s no amount of food styling or staging that will help. Hope that helps a little!


      • Thank you so much! I will definitely try those things out! I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.


        • – Not a problem! Any questions do ask. If I know the answer, that is 🙂
          – Try looking at peoples work on Flickr within food groups, too. As that’s a great way of establishing what you don’t like and like about the work. Not necessarily inspirational. But you can learn a lot by just questioning what appeals to you. Also, if you have family and friends around you then check out their crockery, cutlery and serving utensils! Borrow, don’t steal!


    • This was pretty good! I had leftovers last night and that tasted even better. Going to do another batch tonight as I really want to use up the cabbage. This time with kabano sausages, something I haven’t had in ages.


  2. I love the inclusion of juniper berries in the stock – I wish I had tried this when I was in Lisbon. Lovely soup and photos 🙂 I love the care you take in the preparation of your food and the mood created in your photographs!


    • – Yes, love using juniper berries. And never find enough uses for them.
      – I love doing soups and sauces as they really can contain loads of differing vegetables to give lots more flavour. Besides, it’s a really good way of using them up.
      – As for the mood in the photos – I think that was reflecting mine! So many gremlins using WP atm.


    • That bread is just great! And I bought it for only 19p as it was on its sell-by date. As for the soup, I’m about to have some of the second batch. Couldn’t figure what to do with the rest of the cabbage. This time with those slightly spicy kabano sausages 🙂 Oh, juniper berries have a slightly sweet sour flavour – think gin!


    • Hah! Thank you for that. Yes, supped on more today and the heat is just perfect. I’m wondering if Bird’s eye chilies could be a sub for the green finger chilli. Wow, I’ve just found out that their Scoville rating is 50,000 – 100,000. Think I might try those in curry instead.


  3. Looks so good. Been on a savoy cabbage kick lately and using them a lot, but not yet in a soup. I used up all of my dad’s harvest so now I have to go buy them. Will have to add this to my cooking list!


    • I really love Savoy cabbage, although, comparatively, I do eat more broccoli. So it was good to try this soup that I loved so much when in Lisbon. Hopefully you can buy the green finger chilli. If there’s an Indian store nearby they probably have them.


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