In my house winter means hot soups– and most nights quick and easy bean soups are my go-to meal. Caldo Gallego is one of Galicia’s (a part of northwestern Spain) signature stews. Rich and delicious, it usually features ham hock, root vegetables, turnip greens and creamy local white beans. Since my husband is a vegetarian, I omitted the meat and made a quick and delicious vegetarian caldo Gallego for two!
One of my dirty little secrets is that I often use jarred beans to cook. I have a kitchen filled with incredible dried beans (many sourced from different parts of Spain where each variety flourishes), but I lack some serious planning skills in the kitchen, and by the time I decide what’s for dinner it’s just too late! Luckily, in Spain we are spoiled with some very good brands of jarred beans, and I always have a few jars in the cupboard, just in case.
If you are a meat eater, this caldo Gallego recipe is easy to adjust– simply add the the suggested meats in the recipe below. To truly be caldo Gallego it should definitely include the meat, but the vegetarian version is also delicious!
- 3 cups of white beans (either jarred or already soaked and cooked)
- 1 bunch of turnip tops (grelos in Galicia), kale or chard
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 carrots
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 piece of pork fat (called unto in Galicia, you can substitute tocino or pancetta if necessary)
- 1 ham hock
- Smoked Spanish chorizo (2 two-inch pieces)
- Wash the greens well, and make sure that all dirt and damaged leaves are removed. Drain well, or use a salad spinner.
- Wash and peel and cube the potatoes.
- Peel and dice the carrots.
- Heat the vegetable broth and beans together over a medium heat, and once boiling add the potatoes and carrots. Make sure broth is covering the ingredients. Add water if necessary.
- Cook at a slow boil for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Season with salt and paprika, and add the greens. Cook for about five minutes more, until the greens are tender.
- Add the ham hock to the vegetable broth and beans (or use water, as the meat will create a flavorful broth).
- When you add the potatoes and carrots, you can also add the pork fat and the chorizo.
- Before serving, you can (optionally) dice the chorizo and ham and then add it back into the soup. I prefer it this way.
Whether you make the authentic, meat-lover’s caldo Gallego recipe or my simple vegetarian version, I guarantee it’ll be delicious!
See my other Spanish soup recipes here!