Would you like a bowl of caldo gallego? Once you enter Galicia, you will find it in many menus, especially during the winter months.
We’re well into la primavera now. The weather was quite nice in marzo (March), but then abril (April) started and back came la lluvia (rain) and el frío (cold).
It’s almost mayo (May) now, but the weather is still quite unstable, so I decided to share the recipe for caldo gallego, the perfect dish to warm you up, as well as to get your energy back after a long day’s walk.
But what is caldo gallego?
Caldo gallego (or simply caldo) is a hearty soup made with potatoes, green leaves and beans. As with most traditional dishes, there is not one recipe only, but many variations. And it’s best to prepare a big pot that will last at least a couple of days: caldo tastes much better the day after you make it.
This was originally a farmers’ dish, and it was also a vegetarian dish most of the time, mainly because meat was scarce. As living conditions improved, adding meat to the broth became more common. And even if you don’t see any meat on your plate, el caldo gallego is hardly ever a vegetarian dish these days, as most people use a little piece of unto (cured pork belly fat) to add “substance”.
What do you need?
If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, you will need 3 ingredients, plus salt.
- 200g de alubias blancas (white beans).
- 4 patatas (potatoes).
- 300g de grelos (turnip tops, in the picture), repollo (white cabbage) or berzas (collard greens).
If you are not making it vegetarian, then you have several options.
As I already mentioned, most people add a little piece of unto, which you can substitute with some pancetta. You can also add carne (meat), usually beef or pork, a ham bone and/or chorizo. Some people add all of the above, some others just one or two things… It’s really up to you.
How do you make caldo?
If you’re using dried beans, you need to leave them to soak in water for 10-12h, but you can skip this step if you use cooked beans.
- For the vegetarian version, using dried beans:
First, put the beans into a big pot and cover them with water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the foam when needed.
Let them simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans start to soften. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes; wash whatever greens you are using and remove any thick stalks they may have.
When the beans start to get soft, add the potatoes and greens to the pot and let everything simmer for another 20 minutes or until everything is tender. And don’t forget to add salt to taste.
- If you are using cooked beans, boil the potatoes and greens first and, when they start to soften, add the beans. Let them simmer for a few more minutes.
- If you are using unto or meat, add them to the pot at the beginning, with the beans. That’s if you’re using dried beans. Otherwise, you can let the meat cook for a bit before you add the potatoes and greens. Chorizo does not need to cook for so long. You can add it within the last 10 minutes.
Before you serve it, take the meat and chorizo out and cut them into pieces. Serve in a big bowl with crusty bread.