For the Kids Galician soup in a bowl - Caldo Gallego

Published on September 29th, 2013 | by Gareth


Galician soup – something hearty from Spain

This week’s recipe is hearty and warming, so not much use for anyone in Australia. But I wanted to share it for my family and friends in Britain and the rest of the Northern hemisphere, where the days are getting shorter and the winter woolies are being unpacked. Hopefully it makes up for my gloating about how warm and sunny the weather is here.

When the average Brit thinks of Spanish cuisine, sangria, paella and tapas will likely come to mind, (assuming they are open minded enough to try the local fare). These dishes are great, but Spain has one of the most diverse ranges of cuisine in Europe.

In Southern Spain there’s a heavy Middle Eastern/African influence from the Moors and the dishes are heavily spiced. The cooking of Galicia (North West) draws on the Atlantic, with the scallop taking pride of place.

However, the dish I’m going to share is one of the few Galician dishes not to use seafood, Galician soup. I had this as a starter when I visited Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, last year (a seriously impressive, lichen covered cathedral, where apparently, the apostle James is buried). Unlike the cathedral, this dish isn’t glamorous it uses very basic easily accessible ingredients like white beans, potatoes and ham hock. It’s the sort of thing that I imagine hardy fisherman, or farmworkers would have eaten to keep warm.

To get to Galicia, we drove from Madrid in central Spain across the arid plains of Castile-La Mancha (famous for Manchego sheep’s milk cheese) then North. Castile La Mancha is a massively underrated region, if like me you’re into your history, there is a wealth of well preserved castles and ancient cities to visit. The Roman town of Sergovia, the imposing walled city of Avila (try the roast lamb over a wood fire), Toledo (great place to pick up kitchen knives) and the beautiful uni town of Salamanca are just a few of the great sites. And if you’re into your wine, La Mancha is one of Spain’s largest wine producing regions

Santiago de compostela

Santiago de Compostela – a bit wonky

Candles at Santiago de Compostela

Inside Santiago de Compostela


The main square in Salamanca – central Spain

Here’s how to make that tasty Galician soup I raved about:

Preparation time:  15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ½  hours


  • 250g dried white haricot beans (or 2 tins)
  • 500g smoked ham hock
  • 1 leek
  • 250g chorizo sausage
  • 2 potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 500g silverbeet – finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • Soak the beans in cold water overnight
  • Submerge the hock in cold water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1 hour (until the meat easily comes away from the bone).
  • Put aside to cool then remove the meat from the bone. Don’t throw the stock away though, you’ll need 2 ½ cups of this liquid later.
  • Drain the beans and put into a saucepan, cover the beans with fresh water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of the water.
  • Cook the Chorizo in a saucepan over a medium heat with the olive oil. When it begins to brown, add the leek and garlic. Add the ham, potatoes, beans, bayleaf and the cooking liquid from the beans and ham.
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Stir in the silverbeet 5 minutes before serving.

Whats your favourite recipe that you’ve brought back from a holiday?

galician soup n spoon

simple fare

Central Spain

The imposing walled city of Avila, central Spain

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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

7 Responses to Galician soup – something hearty from Spain

  1. What a wonderful soup Gareth! I really hope to visit Spain one day to delve more into the intricacies of the cuisine 😀

    • Gareth says:

      Fascinating place, France is still my favorite but Spain has so much to offer. If you ever go, visit the Basque region on the border in the North West (Think San Sebastien and Bilboa), food heaven.

  2. I am yet to get to Spain, one day…. Recipes from Japan are high on my bring home list in my brain. Always picking up ideas and inspiration from there.

    • Gareth says:

      Japan is such an inspirational food destination, such an amazing country full stop. Language can be a challenge – there was the odd occasion when I had no idea what I’d ordered :-)

  3. Wow I can’t believe I come home from Galicia to find you’ve blogged this very soup. I only had this once but I really appreciated its hearty simplicity. The seafood was amazing too.

  4. Pingback: Sunny Red Pepper and Tomato Soup | Humble Crumble

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