Though he brought with him the traditions of his homeland, Chef Carlos Arriaga has decidedly distinguished himself as a true New York visionary in innovating new representations of Portuguese cuisine. As head chef at Alfama restaurant, for the past fourteen years Arriaga has fashioned many fresh, delectable (meals) for his eager diners, some of which he has chosen to share with us today.
Throw on your apron and get out your Chef’s hat because now, it’s your turn to try making Chef Arriaga’s delicious Green Soup. With a pinch of Portugal and a sprinkle of the Big Apple, turn your kitchen into a gourmet haven.
Serves 6 to 8
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1-pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups of water
- 1 pound of collard green or kale, thick center stems and fibrous veins removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 1 piece of chouriço about 10 Oz (Portuguese traditional smoked sausage)
- Heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, about 10 minutes. Drop in the potatoes and cook, stirring often, until they start to spot with color, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, add the whole 10 Oz of chouriço.
- Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and shimmer until the potatoes are cooked tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove the chouriço, let it cool down and slice it into ¼ – inch –thick slices.
- Stack several collard green leaves, roll them lengthwise into a tight cigar shape, and cut crosswise into whisker-thin slices. Repeat with the rest of the greens.
- Using a handheld blender puree the soup in batches. Return it to the pot, and bring it back to a boil. Turn the heat to low, stir in the greens, and shimmer, uncovered, until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup together with few slices of chouriço, and drizzle with olive oil.
A native of Lisbon, Arriaga’s interest in cooking was evident from the age of five, when he would accompany his grandmother to the fish market to choose the catch of the day. “Before I could properly carry on a conversation, I was able to name most types of fish” he says. And such love for fresh fish and seafood clearly set the professional path Arriaga would later follow in life. From the age of 15, even before finishing high school, Arriaga knew that he wanted to become a professional chef. And shortly after graduating in 1996, he enrolled in a vocational training course in cooking and pastry arts at the School of Hotel Management and Tourism in Coimbra, northern Portugal.
Upon graduation in 1999, his first job was as Line Cook at the upscale Vintage House Hotel in Pinhao, in the Douro Valley, a Relais & Chateaux property. That same year, Jose De Bouza Serrano, an appointed diplomat of Portugal to the Holy See, was vacationing in the Douro Valley. And after a three-day stay at the Vintage House Hotel and tasting Arriaga’s cooking, Ambassador Serrano invited Arriaga to move to Rome to cook at the embassy. At the tender age of 22, Arriaga became Chef de Cuisine at the Official Residence of the Ambassador of Portugal to the Holy.
In 2002, upon visiting New York, Arriaga could not resist the allure of having a “Big Apple” experience and accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine at Alfama, The Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan.