Monday, January 21, 2008

Caldo Gallego a la Scarborough Fair

During my time at university I spent almost a year in Spain. I was living in Galicia in Spain's beautiful north where the hills are green and the winters cold and where you will see snow almost every winter. To keep warm during the colder months, the people in Galicia, gallegos as they call themselves, cook up a rich and warming stew, the Caldo Gallego.

The main ingredients are white beans, potatoes and two leafy greens I cannot come by in Germany, namely rapini and collard greens, these can be perfectly substituted with curly kale. Alas, the original also contains copious amounts of that-which-must-not-be-named but I chose to just ignore that. This soup is not to be confused with the similar Portuguese Caldo Verde. Caldo Verde does not contain beans and is more on the light side, served as a starter. Caldo Gallego however is a thick, filling soup that is usually served as a one-pot meal.

I fell in love in Spain - with this creamy, rich, aromatic stew and after going vegan this was the first thing I tried in its all-vegetable version. I had been planning on making this my contribution for HotM. While I was making the soup, I was humming the tune of Scarborough Fair. It was then I realized that I happened to have fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme on hand. So in order to give this recipe a twist and make it even more heart healthy I added the English touch to this Spanish stew - the Scarborough fair herbs.

Caldo Gallego a la Scarborough Fair

1 cup uncooked white beans
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
vegetable stock (ideally homemade to make it super heart-healthy)

2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups curly kale, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 sage leaf, chopped
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped

sea salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Soak the beans overnight. Cook them the next day with the bay leaves and the diced onion and garlic until tender. Do not add salt (or salty instant stock) before the beans are tender.

When the beans are done, remove the bay leaves and add the potato cubes and the kale. Cook until tender, around 15 minutes. If you are using homemade stock, you need to add only very little salt since the broth will be very aromatic already, an added heart-healthy bonus. For serving, sprinkle each plate with some of the herbs and give it a drizzle with your finest extra virgin olive oil.

Serves two.

Fat-free depends on the use of fat-free ingredients.
Gluten-free depends on the use of gluten-free ingredients.


Vegan_Noodle said...

Looks delicious!! Are collard greens just not popular in Germany? They are all over the south in the US... tradition I suppose. I like kale better anyways :-)

Anke said...

I've never seen those plants in Germany that they put in the soup in Spain. When I looked up their Spanish names on Wikipedia, it only offered translations to Gallego, Portuguese, English, and Swedish. (Swedish???).

And the older Gallegos who were immigrant workers in Germany in the fifties still remembered that they could never find the proper greens to put into their soups.