Caldo Galego – healthy winter soup with vegetables

Caldo galego is not just one of Galicia’s most typical dishes, it’s a typical dish of whole Spain. You’ll find it in all lists with typical Spanish dishes.

Caldo galego is a healthy, tasty and well filled soup. Mostly eaten in colder periods. The caldo is a completed dish, including vegetables, potatoes, beans and meat. It’s a traditional dish that you won’t encounter in most restaurants. It’s mostly eaten at home by the Galicians. And it’s easy for you to make at home as well!

In Galicia the caldo galego is simply called ‘caldo’. Caldo is the Spanish and Galician word for what we call a broth. As mentioned the dish is traditional. It’s already mentioned in cookbooks from the end of the 19th century. Although in those versions often without meat, what wasn’t eaten daily in that period.
As with many traditional dishes the preparation varies in every household. The preparation can vary as what you have in house or your kitchen garden. The vast ingredients are potatoes, beans and cabbage.

Caldo Galego with bread
Caldo galego accompanied with bread

Despite being potatoes one of the main ingredients, the Galician eat the caldo with bread. Nice to dip it in the soup. Almost all dishes in Galicia are eaten accompanied with bread.

Recipe Caldo Galego

It’s not hard to make a caldo galego. You decide how much work to put into it. I will share with you an easy recipe. Based on 4 persons. Cooking time including preparation about 40 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 liters of broth
  • 150 grams of bacon, cut in pieces
  • 400 grams of potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces of 2 to 3 cm
  • 250 grams of green cabbage
  • 1 can of beans, drained

Preparation:

Put the broth in a large pan
Add the bacon, potatoes and cabbage. Bring to boil and simmer it for about 30 minutes.
Add the beans during the last 5 minutes.

(source: Claudia Roden – Food of Spain)

Variations
There is not just one way to make a caldo galego. You can make it just as you want and whit that what you have.
You can vary with the meat. You can add sausage or chorizo if you like, just as on the picture above. Traditionally a caldo is made with pork, but nobody will stop you if you’d like to add ham, veal or chicken.

In stead of the easy variation above you can also go more the traditional way. In that case don’t use beans from a can, but dry them. And don’t make broth from a package, but make it yourself.

My first experiences

I remember well my introduction to the caldo galego. For my study in the Netherlands I decided to do research in Galicia and stayed for some weeks at a friend in Santiago de Compostela. He used to cook at night. And one of the dishes he made was – in my view – a kind of vegetable soup with meat and potatoes. By now I know this was the traditional caldo. A warm and filling meal. He used to make it at least once a week. And every time again it was a tasty meal.

Caldo or cocido?

There is also something called a cocido gallego. That is a different dish, but consist mainly on the same ingredients. Although the meat will never fail in a cocido. A caldo can also be made without meat.

Main difference between caldo and cocido is in the structure. A caldo is a soup and a cocido a stew. If you speak Spanish you will notice this directly by the names of the dishes. Caldo means broth and cocido means – very literally – cooked.

The preparation of a cocido galego doesn’t differs much from a caldo. Once the cooking is completed you take the ingredients out of the pan with a slotted spoon and presents it on a plate. You leave the liquid part in the pan.

What do you prefer: a caldo or a cocido?

Have a try on the recipe above. Enjoy your meal and get to know this fantastic winter dish. Often when talking about the Galician gastronomy we think first of marisco, pulpo, pimientos de padron or an empanada. However, the traditional caldo also definitly belongs to this list.

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