Member recipe

Caldo Gallego (Galician bean, meat and big leaf soup)

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Cooking time

Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 2 hours and 30 minutes Overnight soaking of beans. Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a soup starter

Skill level

Easy

Servings

Serves 6

Caldo Gallego (or simply ‘Caldo’ if in Galicia). The indisputable soup-come-stew originally from Galicia, now found all over Spain. The green leafy veg. beans and meaty broth make it. Choose freely from the meats, but the smoked ham hock and bacon/pancetta slab should never be omitted where possible. Purists insist that the dish should never contain chorizo but there are traditional recipes that contain and omit randomly. Also the Grelos are the leafy tops of turnips and are essential to this soup. Historically the turnips were fed to the cattle and the Grelos kept for the Caldo. Having said that I have encountered Caldo with sliced rounds of cooked turnips incorporated, along with the potatoes! In this recipe I have added chopped carrot as this adds a hint of sweetness and adds to the colour of the dish. Traditionally the leafy vegetable of choice to add to this dish is Grelos. But I have never found them outside of northern Spain, so a good substitute could be: Spring/collard greens Cavalo nero Cabbage Leaves Swiss Chard Wild Spinach or any other big leafy green vegetables in sizeable quantity

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Ingredients

MEATS

  • 2 fresh cooking chorizos
  • 2cm slab of smoked bacon or Spanish pancetta (unsliced)
  • 1/2 smoked ham knuckle or good sized smoked gammon
  • Beef/pork bone
  • ~100 gms of whole chunk of serrano ham

VEGETABLES

  • 4 potatoes, peeled and chunked up about 2cm
  • 500grms of dried large white beans - Spanish Granjes, (Lima/butter beans). Any *large* white beans can be used as decent substitute)
  • 3 small turnips (optional) Peeled and quartered
  • Leafy green veg (see notes above)
  • 1 whole peeled carrot (chopped) (Optional).

OTHER STUFF

  • 4 garlics roughly chopped
  • A dash of EVOO
  • Large tblspn of oak smoked pimento, dulce
  • 4 smoked ñora peppers
  • A few bay leaves

Method

  1. Soak white beans overnight. Next day, drain and refill with cold water to cover by 4cms.

  2. In a large pot add a little EVOO, med heat up, and add pancetta slab and bone. Cook until bone and slab look like they are rendering juices and starting to brown a bit.

  3. Add bay leaves, ham knuckle, and fill with water to cover the smoked knuckle. Bring to boil and leave on rolling boil/simmer for about 75mins or less (check ham knuckle to make sure it stays submerged, add more water if needed).

  4. In the meantime bring to boil the white beans and cook on moderate heat for just 15mins. Drain and set aside (This is to give the beans a helping start as they won’t cook quickly later when added to the salty/meaty broth that will become from above).

  5. Back at the big pot (after about 75mins), remove all the meats and bone and set aside.

  6. Add the white beans to the big broth pot, bring to the boil and simmer at a medium-high flame. How long to cook? This is the most important step! The beans must be cooked to nearing al-dente. Any further they will turn to mush, too early and they will remain bullets. Judge well because the final step will be to add the vegetables/potatoes and chorizos at the right time because there are 30 more minutes left of cooking. So keep checking!

  7. Whilst the beans are simmering grab a frying pan, add some EVOO and start frying the onion/leek slices, add the ñora peppers and after 10mins add the chopped garlic, turn down heat and continue cooking on low heat until onion/leeks are nearing to brown, but not there yet. Turn off heat, allow to cool then stir in the paprika. Remove ñora peppers, pull off stems. In a blender add the ñoras and a cup of the broth from large pot (cooled) and whizz up into a thick sauce. Add this back into the frying pan and stir to mix.

  8. When the removed meats have cooled slice off any excess meat, chop up into bite sized pieces and leave aside for the mo.

  9. When the beans are nearing al-dente, add the chopped carrots, the fried onion or leek/garlic/ñora/paprika sauce from the frying pan, and the whole chorizos to the big pot. Cook on moderate heat. After 10 mins add potato chunks. Add the turnips (if using) 5 mins later then after another 5 mins add chopped greens and the chopped meats and continue to cook until potatoes, and turnips (if musing) are cooked, but not falling apart.

  10. Check the beans, are they now cooked? If so turn heat to a bare minimum uncovered and hook out the chorizos. When cool enough to handle chop into chunks and add back into the pot for a few mins.

  11. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with country bread

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