The best soup you’ll ever have…
Talk about a Warm-You-Up soup! The Galicia region of Spain is cool and wet; it’s often compared to Ireland. Beautiful and green, with lots of mist and rain, so there’s a lingering dampness that seeps into your bones. Galicians figured out a few centuries ago how to warm up from the inside out. Caldo Gallego is on every menu…and is deliciously different at each place, even with the same basic ingredients. Once made, it keeps well for several days.
I made this without a recipe when I came back from the Camino, based on my memory–it was the first thing I cooked. I used chicken broth, only to find out when I did a recipe search that most Caldo Gallega recipes also use a ham bone or pieces of sausage. My favorite recipe instructed me to boil the potatoes until they were mushy and dissolving into the broth.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed my own version of Caldo Gallega. It’s a perfect comfort food, all year round. Besides, when I eat it, fond Camino memories come back. Caldo Gallega is also a cure for regrets, broken hearts, and tax-day blues.
Recipe: Caldo Gallega (“Galician Soup”)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound mild Italian sausage, sliced 2 inches thick
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans white beans, undrained
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8-10 black peppercorns
4-6 whole cloves
6 ounces thick bacon, chopped, or a ham bone
2 quarts chicken broth
2 potatoes, diced
2 cups kale or collard greens, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over moderate heat. Add the sausage and cook till lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pot. Cook slowly until the onion begins to soften and brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add the beans, herbs and spices, bacon (or ham bone), and water. Increase heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. check the pot occasionally to stir and skim off any foam that may float on the surface.
- Add the potatoes and the sausage. Cook for another hour, partially covered. Add kale and cook for another hour, uncovered, stirring thoroughly every 15 minutes. (By now, the soup should be quite thick.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a rustic bread and red Spanish wine. Close your eyes and remember your Camino…