Caldo Gallego Recipe
Gallego refers to someone or something from Galicia, the lush, verdant region in northwest Spain, directly north of Portugal, while caldo means broth. If you ate this dish in five different restaurants or homes, you would invariably enjoy five different versions. Beans, pork in some form, and greens are the basics that everyone agrees on, but beyond that it depends on what is in season and what is in the garden. Our version evolved from having to make it to order, or à la minute, as the French say. Therefore all the components are cooked separately and combined at the end in the pork broth. This also means that everything can be cooked ahead of time for entertaining at home, and put together at the last minute.
- 2 cups white beans, such as navy or cannellini beans
- 8 new potatoes
- 1/2 bunch thyme
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 head red chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
- 6 cups roasted pork stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)
- 4 cooked pork or garlic sausages, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Soak the beans overnight in fresh, cold water.
- The next day, place the potatoes in a saucepan with salted water to cover and bring to a rapid boil. Cover immediately with a tightfitting lid, remove from the heat, and let the potatoes finish cooking in the residual heat until you can easily pierce them with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Drain and let cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, drain the beans. Wrap the thyme, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, carrot, and onion in cheesecloth, and tie with a string. Combine the beans and the aromatics in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Salt the beans to taste about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the cheesecloth sack and discard. Drain the beans and set aside.
- Meanwhile, blanch the chard in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Cut the potatoes into eighths and add them to a large pot with the beans, chard, stock, and sausage. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until all the ingredients are heated through, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with the parsley.
Beverage pairing: Bodegas Viña Mein, Spain. White beans, chard, potatoes, onions, and carrots are all very earthy flavors and call for a wine equally based in flavors of the soil. Since the soup is from Galicia, it’s not a bad idea to try a white wine from the same area. The main grape in this wine’s blend is the unheralded Treixadura, which makes unremarkable wine elsewhere in the world, but on Spain’s green west coast conjures up apricots, cantaloupes, and other assorted melons, all of which blend a mellow fruitiness with a connection to the soil. Texturally, the wine is bright and zesty, a good foil for the heartiness of the soup.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.