Soup, as my dear Mom probably approached it, was simple– get a can opener and pour out the contents, then heat it up. Story over.

Skip ahead some fifty years to her son (that’s me) and you have a guy who is facing up to creating something as simple as soup…from scratch. There are the contents, be it vegetable or potato or whatever, a medium to float in, and flavoring. I often will use simply purchased low sodium chicken or vegetable broth…but that isn’t enough.

To make this classic Galician stew from northwestern Spain, you start with some garlic and onion which you sautée in a bit of olive oil…or rendered pork fat if you have it. Add some bacon cut into small pieces, and continue to cook on a lower heat. Perhaps you might add a tad of salt at this point.

This is your base of flavors, and then its time to add your broth (if you are exceptional, you simply add water and maybe a lot more time for simmering). I then added my white beans which I bought dried earlier that day and effected a ‘quick soak’ by boiling for two minutes and soaking for an hour.

Aside: I considered buying tins of cooked beans (two would have sufficed) but if you want something with less sodium, you must buy the organic–usually around $2.29 or more per can. Or you can spend less on the commercial…about $1.59 or so, but these are packed with too much salt. My solution–I bought dried beans, a pound for $1.99 which, when cooked in the manner described, yielded a solid double of the amount that any two cans would have provided–just for the trouble of soaking.

Add your two potatoes, diced, and then you sweat out in hope that the partially treated beans would cook through. I left it on a simmer, tasted it, and found the flavors only slowly peeking through. I went to the freezer and pulled out a block of 2-4 ounces of my home made romesco sauce to punch things up and add another layer of nuance.

The white beans finally cooked through, the flavors bounced, and the breakdown of the potatoes added a smooth thickness to it all.

And that’s how you make caldo gallego, folks.

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