Caldo Gallego, especially this recipe is a staple in our household. I wasn’t planning to use it for the Spanish dinner because that just seemed like cheating (not that I have anything against cheating), but there is a grocery by our house that makes the best Caldo Gallego soup which I no longer buy because it’s $7 a quart vs under $7 for a potful when I make it myself. I talked to the owner one day and he told me the secret was using “unto” (needless to say, it wasn’t something sold at the grocery). It wasn’t even something I could google because I didn’t know what it was and unto is such a generic word. In one of those serendipitous moments it just so happened that we were picking somebody up on the other side of town and I saw a different Spanish grocery, ran inside and found unto (which turns out to be salted lard). But when I was cooking the Caldo Gallego with unto instead of bacon, it just didn’t taste as good to me. Unto gave a smooth but bland flavor and I ended up throwing in some paprika and vinegar in an attempt to improve it. How can something with chorizo end up bland? Or is it only that I am comparing it to a less authentic, but improved version (to my tastebuds).
- 1/4 pound thickly sliced pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice – I used unto but didn’t like it as much as when I’ve made it with bacon
- 1 14-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 pound turnip greens (or other dark leafy green, such as kale or spinach), stemmed and coarsely chopped
Saute the bacon, don’t use the unto – or maybe use unto and bacon. When the bacon is cooked and all the fat is rendered, add the potato and turnip and cover with water.
When the potato and turnip are cooked (about 15 minutes) add the beans, greens, and chorizo and simmer until the greens are done (another 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste. If you are not preparing the full blown Spanish dinner, it will be a complete meal in itself.
For my niece who doesn’t eat pork but bookmarks my recipes – use a bunch of salted butter in place of the bacon. Instead of the chorizo throw in cumin, vinegar, and smoked paprika. It won’t taste anything like the recipe but it will be good, especially with some hot sauce.