Caldo Gallego

Galician White Bean Soup with Greens

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

In northwest Spain, in the province of Galicia, where Christian pilgrims trek to the shrine of Saint James of Compostela, the signs are written not in Spanish (always referred to here as castellano, or Castilian) but in galego, the Galician version of Portuguese. Political autonomy from Madrid and television that speaks galego increase the sense of separation from Spain. This heartiest of hearty soups is the Galician poster dish. It is similar to the Tuscan Ribollita, but you don’t want to press that point in Lugo or La Coruna. And, besides, the various meats in this soup make a decisive difference.

Is this Galicia somehow connected to the former province of Austria-Hungary of the same name? Some experts propose that they are both (along with other similarly named places across Europe) echoes of Celtic (Gallic) settlement. To add spice to the pot of this discussion, one ought to mention the principal lingering active relic of Austro-Hungarian Galicia, which stretched across a large swath of eastern Europe, from southern Poland south through the Ukraine. That relic would be one of the two main branches of Yiddish, Galitzianer. The other is Litvak, or Lithuanian Yiddish. Neither of these two Jewish cultural factions was entirely comfortable with the other, linguistically or otherwise, but both Litvaks and Galitzianers in their highly self-aware pre-Hitlerian heydays would have rejected any kinship with the Galicians of Spain—if they had known about them.


  • ¾ pound dried white beans, soaked overnight
  • ¼ pound salt pork or pancetta, diced
  • ½ pound deboned veal breast, sliced across the grain in 1-inch strips
  • 1 medium chorizo (about the size of an Italian sausage), cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 pound spareribs, sliced into ribs
  • ¼ cup lard
  • 2 cups greens (turnip, mustard, collard, or kale), shredded
  • pounds potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Salt


  1. Bring quarts (10 cups) of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add the beans, the salt pork, the veal breast, the chorizo, and the spareribs. When the liquid resumes boiling, add the lard, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for an hour.
  2. Add the greens and the potatoes. Salt to taste and continue simmering until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove 1 cup of potatoes and 1 cup of beans. Mash them together and stir back into the soup to thicken it.

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