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Elisabeth's Caldo Gallego

Elisabeth's Caldo Gallego

Galician bean-pot with greens


Comfort food for the cold months, this combination of creamy white beans and mustardy winter greens is traditional home-cooking in the rainy Celtic corner of north-west Spain, where olive oil is replaced with lard and the tomatoes and garlic of the south give way to the root-vegetables and brassicas, particularly those conveniently combined in the form of grelos, turnip-greens. It’s worth going to the trouble of preparing the beans from scratch – canned beans don’t give nearly such good results.

Serves 6



300g white beans (pochas or alubias), soaked overnight

500g beef-shin, roughly chunked

200g pork belly, diced

1-2 chicken joints (leg and thigh)

2-3 bayleaves

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

To finish

about 100g soft chorizo (2-3 links)

optional: about 100g morcilla (Spanish black pudding)

1k floury potatoes, scrubbed and chunked

500g young turnips, peeled and chunked 

(optional) handful turnip-greens 

1 small green (savoy) cabbage, shredded

1 tablespoon smoked pimenton

Salt and pepper 



Drain the beans and put them in a large stewpot with twice their own volume of cold water. Bring the pot to the boil and skim off any grey foam that rises – a precaution which makes the beans more digestible. 

Add the beef, pork, chicken, bayleaves and peppercorns and return the pot to the boil.  Turn down the heat, lid loosely and leave to bubble gently for 1 1/2-2 hours, till the beans are soft but still keep their shape. Keep the broth topped up with boiling water throughout. Taste the broth and add salt.

Ladle half the broth into another saucepan, add the turnips and potatoes, bring to the boil, lid and cook for 15 minutes, till nearly soft. Add the cabbage, reheat, lid and cook for another 5 minutes, till all is tender.

Meanwhile add the chorizo and optional morcilla to the beans and continue to cook till the vegetables in the vegetable pot are ready. 

Ladle the cabbage, turnips and potatoes with the broth from both pots into deep plates, and hand the beans, meats and sausages separately for people to add their own.  In Galicia, the dish would appear as two or even three courses. Bread and Galician wine to accompany, of course.