The Eyes of My Mother, the 2016 film directed by Nicolas Pesce, gave us a unique and chilling version of a coldblooded killer. Francisca (Kika Magalhães) is the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, including a mother who was a former surgeon. Growing up fairly isolated on an American farm, her life is a mixture of trauma and isolation. It’s an unsettling character study, giving us chapters in the life of a lonely girl whose intense longing for a family begets shocking violence.
The film is bleak, but it inspired this recipe, a warm and comforting soup you may need for rehabilitation after viewing. It’s a rustic Portuguese caldo verde, a brothy potato soup laced with greens you could see Francisca preparing for herself on the farm. Traditionally it’s made with sausage, linguiça in particular, but I took a note from Francisca’s freezer full of beef from her farm and made meatballs instead. It’s definitely a soup you could see her sipping by herself at the farmhouse table on a dark and lonely evening, but it makes a large warming pot enough for the family she longs for.
A couple meatball tips – the mixture will be fairly moist and may be hard to shape if it’s not well chilled. If you coat your hands in oil, it helps it not to stick as you shape them, and if you make loosely shaped balls, you can stick them in the fridge for a few minutes and shape them rounder before frying. Also, they can be delicate, so you can use two spoons to turn them in the pan until they are halfway cooked, and then gently roll them around for a few minutes to finish.
Portuguese Caldo Verde with Meatballs
For the meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- handful chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
Use a food processor to finely chop the onion, garlic and parsley (you can add the milk in at this point to help it mix). Thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Coat your hands with oil to shape heaping tablespoon-sized meatballs onto a plate (transferring to the fridge to chill if needed). Heat the oil on medium, and fry the meatballs in batches, using a spoon to turn and then rolling around in the pan until cooked through. Set aside.
For the soup
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch greens such as chard, kale or collards, stems removed and cut into thin strips.
Heat the oil on medium, and cook onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add potatoes, broth and salt, and simmer, covered, until potatoes are thoroughly cooked through. Blend with an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Add the greens, and cook until they are bright green and wilted. Serve hot, with meatballs, a squirt of lemon if you like, and crusty bread.
Let us know how your Portuguese Caldo Verde with Meatballs turned out, and share recipes from your own Witchy Kitchen with us on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!