I love caldo verde and have made it time and time again. However, when I was thinking of what to make for lunch, I focused on using a small pumpkin that had been taking up space in my vegetable basket for two weeks now. I cut it in half and scooped out the insides, intent on saving the seeds to roast. I washed them and set them aside to drain so they would be dry for roasting.
I peeled the pumpkin and cut it up into 1 inch cubes. This gave me about twice what I needed for the soup, so I put half in a plastic bag and stored in the fridge, leaving the remain 3 cups of pumpkin for the soup.
I chopped 1/2 of a small onion and two garlic cloves. Heating 1 TBSP of olive oil on medium low (3 on a 10 scale electric range), I added the onions and garlic, some salt and pepper, and let them sweat for 15 minutes or so until meltingly tender. I wanted rich layers of flavor because I would not be added commercial broth and sweating the onions would bring out maximum flavor. I then added 2 Italian sausages and let them brown. Bringing the heat up to medium, I added enough water to cover the sausages with about an inch of water above them. I put the lid on the kettle and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
Now I spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking dish and sprinkled them with olive oil, salt and paprika, stirring lightly to spread the mixture over all the seed. I put the pan in the oven at 320° F and let them roast.
When the sausages were done and the broth had a nice, spicy flavor, I removed the sausages and cut them into 1 inch pieces and put them back in the pan. Then I added the 3 cups of pumpkin chunks. I let them cook on medium until tender.
Meanwhile. I chopped up two cups of fresh kale, removing the stems and rolling the kale into a pipe shape so I could slice it in a thin chiffonade. I added the kale and let cook about 15-20 minutes until done. By now, the pumpkin seeds were roasted and ready to serve as garnish. This made lots of seeds that I set aside for later.
The sausage is spicy enough that the soup just needs salt and pepper to bring out the flavor of the broth. It’s spicy, hearty and delicious. The pumpkin makes this a very different soup, Less creamy, sweeter, more fragrant. It still has many layers of flavor and texture and the pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch and smokiness. Makes 4 large servings.