Vegetarian Caldo Gallego Recipe

My vegetarian caldo Gallego recipe is the perfect white bean soup for winter!
Vegetarian caldo Gallego– yum!

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!

Vegetarian Caldo Gallego Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Vegetarian Caldo Gallego
  • 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
  • Salt
Meat-Lover's Caldo Gallego
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Wash the greens well, and make sure that all dirt and damaged leaves are removed. Drain well, or use a salad spinner.
  2. Wash and peel and cube the potatoes.
  3. Peel and dice the carrots.
  4. 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.
  5. Cook at a slow boil for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Season with salt and paprika, and add the greens. Cook for about five minutes more, until the greens are tender.
If Using Meat
  1. Add the ham hock to the vegetable broth and beans (or use water, as the meat will create a flavorful broth).
  2. When you add the potatoes and carrots, you can also add the pork fat and the chorizo.
  3. 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!

This warming vegetarian soup packs a healthy punch with carrots and kale. In Spain, they often add in a few rounds of chorizo as well!

Comments

  1. I love this vegetarian twist on the typically meat-lovers stew—props for throwing in veggie broth, carrots, and pimentón to replace the flavor and consistency of the traditional recipe. Caldo galego was one of my favorite stews to make at home when I lived in Santiago, and I tried to make it old-school with beans soaking the night before and straight-up pork fat…the unto is a little shocking the first time you use it but when it’s dissolved it really gives the stew such a comforting flavor.

  2. There’s also a great vegetarian recipe for caldo gallego in the new cookbook “Vegan Spanish Cooking,” along with a bunch of other vegetarian winter Spanish soups.

  3. Hi Lauren. As a Galician, I am really sickened of finding recipes as this, that call “caldo gallego” things that really are not. Carrots, nor pimenton nor vegetable broth are ingredients of caldo gallego. Additionally, unto is the most ESSENTIAL ingredient of caldo gallego, it is not a choice. If there is no unto, you may have a vegetable soup, not caldo. It’s perfectly acceptable that you describe this as your version of caldo gallego, but please, don’t call this caldo.

    1. Hi Rosa Maria, I totally agree that those things are necessary in a traditional caldo gallego, and by adding the word “vegetarian” as well as my description at the start of the post, I think it is clear to my readers that this is an adaptation. Also, given that my readers are based mainly in the US, I always need to put possible substitutions for things like unto. You can’t buy unto in the US.

  4. As someone who loves Spanish food and is also a flexitarian, I’m always happy to come across recipes for meat-free alternatives to classics. Can’t wait to try this, seems perfect for the current cold weather in Japan. Thanks for posting!

  5. Love seeing this and as a Galician living in the UK totally understand that there have to be adaptations sometimes – but I think you do a fine job and it is great to spotlight Spanish food! Thank you.

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