Is there anything better than a big pot of bubbly soup on a Sunday afternoon? Yesterday, I made some classic Spanish Comfort Food — Caldo Gallego. The name translates to Galician Stew, and the soup originates from the Northern Spanish region of Galicia, which also happens to be where my great-grandparents were born and raised.
This traditional white bean soup comes in many versions. With chorizo and without, with turnips and without, with bacon and without. My version uses slab bacon and a lot of smoked ham hock to create a smoky, salty ham stock. Add cannelini beans, potatoes, onions and lots of collard greens for soup full of flavor, texture and healthful goodness. Sop everything up with a fresh baguette and you’ve got comfort food at its best.
Make sure to make a whole bunch because it tastes even better the next day. You can also freeze individual portions for easy portable lunches or emergency week night meals.
Caldo Gallego (Galician Stew)
1 thick slice slab bacon (or 2 slices regular bacon), thinly sliced
2 lb. smoked ham hock, bone-in (or 3/4 lb. boneless smoked ham hock)
10 cups water
2 large russet potatoes, diced into small pieces
1 lg. yellow onion, finely diced
1 lb. collard greens (or kale, or turnip greens), washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped
3 15 oz. cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
good olive oil for drizzling
baguette for dipping
Place your biggest pot over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until the fat renders a bit, then add the ham hock and cover with the water. Bring to a simmering boil, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 1 hour.
Remove the ham hock to a cutting board, but leave the pot on the heat. Discard the bones and any additional fat, then cut the ham into small, bite-sized pieces. Return the ham to the pot.
Raise the heat to medium-high, then add the potatoes and onions. Bring to a slow boil for 20 minutes.
Add the greens and beans to the pot and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Serve and drizzling with good olive oil. Eat with a big piece of fresh baguette.
Makes 8 servings.