Caldo Gallego Recipe (Galician White Bean Soup)

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spanish caldo gallego recipe

Have you ever tried making a caldo gallego recipe before? I strongly suggest you try it out, it’s delicious, warm and satisfying.

While I was out walking through the neighborhood, I had a memory from childhood of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, a Disney production, I believe. Christopher Robin, Pooh bear, and friends tossed about the Hundred Acre Wood on the wind. Here, there are oak leaves swirling about across brick streets, palm fronds making rustling noises, and bamboo clattering.

When I arrived home, I went searching for my collection of A.A. Milne, The Wind in the Willows for the story that inspired the blustery day in the Hundred Acre Wood. “Happy Winds-day, Piglet, ” said Pooh. I did not find such a story, but that the production was based on three Pooh stories by A.A. Milne. I came across a poem “Who Knows Where the Wind Goes” in my edition of the Milne collection. “No one knows where the wind goes…”

It is a blustery, chilly day here, the smell of wood-burning fireplaces in the air. It’s great soup weather, and I need little inspiration to create soups. It seems to be in my New England, Italian-American blood. But, sometimes I stray into other cuisine heritages. We found some paprika-laced fresh chorizo sausage at our local Fresh Market, and reminisced about the great Caldo Gallego that was served at a restaurant once loved, now gone, Pepin’s.

It was served with warm, crisp Cuban bread. I found a recipe in The New Spanish Table , by Anya von Bremzen, for Caldo Gallego, or Galician White Bean Soup.

Traditionally, Galician White Bean Soup is a complicated affair and rather meat-centric. You may remeember that Galicia is in the northwest corner of Spain, a region with Celtic heritage and a lush, green and craggy landscape with fjords and lagoons, von Bremzen tells us. Since it is far from the sunnier, warmer corners of Spain, it is a land of bracing, hearty traditional dishes, like Caldo Gallego.

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This region of Spain, by the way, is where the elegant Albarino white wine is produced, which would pair nicely with this soup.

The original recipe from the Spanish Table calls for meaty ham hock, veal, bacon and chorizo sausage. It also describes a day-before preparation with meat that must be separated, taken off the bone, and broth that must be chilled and skimmed of fat. I elected to make some adaptations to reduce the animal product content and to simplify the cooking method, hopefully making this soup recipe more agreeable to the home cook.

If you like Asian food you can also try my red bean adzuki bean rice recipe too.

Caldo Gallego, Galician White Bean Soup, recipe adapted from Anya von Bremzen, The New Spanish Table. Please refer to the book for the original recipe. My adaptation is published here.

Caldo Gallego, Galician White Bean Soup, recipe
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion
  • 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks (can be purchased in this cut for convenience)
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • ¼ pound of ham, diced into small cubes
  • 1 pound of fresh chorizo (you could use dried chorizo if you prefer)
  • 3 =15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 and ½ cups of cubed potatoes of your choice (I used some mixed organic yams, for nutritional impact)
  • 1 bunch of chard, trimmed from the tough stems and chopped coarsely
  • 48 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a 5 quart pot over medium heat that is suitable for simmering soup. I use a Le Creuset enamel over cast iron round Dutch oven.
  2. Add the chorizo, onion, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are tender but not browning and the sausage is beginning to cook.
  3. Add the ham, and cook for just 2-3 minutes, which will allow the ham to give off it’s smoky flavor.
  4. ADD the carrots, potatoes, broth, and beans, and bring just to a bowl. You will see a foam appear on the surface of the pot–skim it off with a large spoon.
  5. Simmer for about 40 minutes. You will note that the chorizo gives off a red color and a paprika flavor.
  6. Add the chard and cook for another 10 minutes for the chard to become tender.
  7. The soup, or potage, is ready when the potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened slightly.
  8. Taste–add salt and pepper as needed to season.
  9. Ladle into deep soup bowls and serve with a crusty bread. You might want a small drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil on your serving to add a fruity, peppery flavor.
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Serves 6-8 generous bowls

This soup is very flavorful, in spite of less meat and an abbreviated preparation. The beans are creamy, and the ham adds a smoky flavor The chorizo adds that Spanish paprika flavor and color. There is plenty of nutritional value from the variety of vegetables. It is, as promised, a hearty soup for a blustery winter day.

Please let me know how you like this easy, quick version of Caldo Gallego, and share your favorite soups for cold, windy weather. The Comment box follows each post.

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