My Soul Looks Back
Caldo Gallego—Galician White Bean Soup
I first tasted caldo gallego on a trip to Santiago de Compostela more years ago than I want to count. It was love at first slurp: the combination of the slightly spicy chorizo sausage, the bland starch of the potato, and the tang of the greens was perfectly suited to that northern Spanish town where they boast they have made rainfall an art form. I was thrilled to discover it on the menu at El Faro, where many chowed down on shrimp in green sauce and other shellfishy delights. It rapidly became my go-to order: comfort in a bowl. Even today, one spoonful takes me time-traveling back to the scarred wooden booths in the restaurant’s back room and reminds me of my youth.
– Serves six –
1 ham hock (about 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 pound chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch-thick cubes
2 cups small white turnips, roughly chopped
2 cans cannellini beans and their liquid
4 cups chopped kale
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the ham hock by cooking it in water to cover for 2 hours. Reserve the cooking liquid and add enough water to make 10 cups.
In a large, heavy saucepot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and chorizo and cook until the onions soften and the chorizo starts to brown, about five minutes.
Add the ham hock and liquid, the potatoes, and the turnips. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, skim
ming off and discarding any foam that rises to the surface, until the ham, potatoes, and turnips soften, about 11/2 hours.
Add the beans and the kale and cook until the greens are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the ham hock. Pull the meat off the bone and discard the bone. Stir the meat into the pot. Adjust seasonings and serve.