The Daily Spud

...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Spud Sunday: The Way Of The Spud

Y’know, a Paddy such as I could probably make themselves quite at home in the corner of Spain that is Galicia. The landscape is really quite green, the region does a good line in celtic diddly-eye music and the local cuisine features plenty of spuds. Walking through the countryside here, you might well feel like you have been transported to somewhere that has all of the appearances of the slow-paced, rural Ireland of times past, but with warmer weather and, it has to be said, better seafood.

The borderlands of Galicia and Castile y León

The borderlands of Galicia and Castile y León

It was the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that brought me to parts of Galicia and Castile y León this past week. The Camino, which stretches across Northern Spain and beyond into France and even further afield, is tremendously popular these days. It attracts all sorts of people with all sorts of reasons for wanting to tread its ancient pathways and, while I wasn’t necessarily there for the potatoes (which, if it were so, would surely constitute one of the more unusual reasons for doing the Camino), spuds did manage to permeate my week in their own way.

Walking the Camino route, I couldn’t help but admire the fine patches of potatoes and other vegetables along the way and, when it was time to eat, more often than not, there were pots of caldo gallego, a hearty galician soup with spuds, beans and greens, or slabs of tortilla española, the classic Spanish potato omelette, or pieces of trout, salmon or hake served simply with boiled spuds. When it was time to drink, well, patatas fritas aplenty were washed down with not a few cervezas.

So today, back in real, rainy Ireland and feeling a little nostalgic for those that I shared spuds with over the past week, I played some Spanish music, made my own pot of caldo gallego, checked my feet for blisters and, for just a little while, imagined that I was somewhere back on that ancient road.

Caldo Gallego à la Spud

caldo gallego

You’ll need:
  • 100g dried haricot or cannellini beans or 1x400g tin of haricots or cannellini
  • 750ml chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 500g potatoes
  • 250g dark leafy greens – I used chard
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp salt or less if using stock that’s already salted
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for frying
The Steps:
  • If using dried beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight or, to quick soak, place them in a saucepan with several inches of water, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to soak for at least an hour.
  • To cook the soaked beans, drain them and then cover with the stock or water, bring to a boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour or until starting to become tender. Alternatively, add the beans and stock or water to a pressure cooker, along with about a tblsp of oil, bring up to pressure and cook for about 8 minutes and allow the pressure to drop. Set aside.
  • If using tinned beans, there’s no need for soaking and cooking, just drain and rinse them.
  • If you don’t care for potato skins in your soup, peel the potatoes, otherwise scrub them well, and then chop into chunks, roughly 2cm across.
  • Wash the chard thoroughly and cut away any thick stalks. Cut the leaves into strips about 2-3cm wide and slice the stalks into pieces about 1-2cm long.
  • Place a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add olive oil to coat the pan, then add the onion and garlic and stir and fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the potato chunks and stir and fry for another minute or two.
  • Add the bay leaves, salt, cooked beans and their cooking liquid or, if using tinned beans, add the beans plus stock or water. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes start to become tender.
  • Add the chard stalks and cook for about another 5 minutes, then add the chard leaves and stir, allowing the leaves to wilt a bit and bring back to a simmer. Cook for another 10 minutes or so or until the greens are tender.
  • Add the red wine vinegar and a couple of twists of black pepper and stir to mix.
  • Serve with some nice crusty bread, not much else needed.
The Variations:
  • You could use butter beans in place of the haricots/cannellini, they’ll just need a longer initial cooking time – maybe 90 minutes or so, or 10 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  • You could also substitute other dark greens, such as kale, for the chard. If using, add it 10-15 minutes earlier in the cooking process as it needs a longer cooking time.
  • For a meatier soup, try adding chunks of chorizo towards the end of cooking.
The Results:
  • Hearty soup for 3-4 pilgrims

16 Comments

  1. I love those pictures of the country side. I can just imagine taking an afternoon stroll down a dirt path.

    The soup looks hearty. Delish!!

  2. The pictures are gorgeous! I wish I were there now for my eyes to have a green enjoyment. How lucky you were to meet spuds there. This reminds me the paths to our village, which is far away for me now. There were too many orange and lemon trees along the road and inhaling that fresh air full of citrus flavor makes you feel in heaven.

    Caldo Gallego à la Spud sounds so filling and tasty. I love that combination of beans and chard with potatoes. I’ve never used them together. Must try this one.

  3. Beautiful! I feel I have had a little trip through your expiriemces.

  4. What a lot of fun! The pictures are fantastic, and Caldo Gallego à la Spud sounds, well stupendous. My BIL and his girlfriend just got back from a pilgrimage in portugal and Spain – not sure if it was the same walk, but they too had an incredible time. I suspect its not as they said where they were there was a lot of rain, your photos indicate that was not an issue for you.
    What a lovely trip and what a wonderful sounding dish – thanks as always for sharing!

  5. Glad to see you back! What a gorgeous part of the world you got to hang out in and wander about in! This Caldo Gallego sounds like Just The Ticket for cooler weather. Will revisit this one in the fall:)

  6. Which is your preference, dried or tinned beans. Note i don’t have a pressure cooker!

  7. Daily Spud

    Monday, July 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    jenn: on the Camino there are plenty of afternoon strolls down dirt paths and alongside roadways and through towns and villages too – it covers a lot of ground

    zerrin: I love the idea of citrus trees along the route – would have made it even better

    Carol: glad you enjoyed the trip :)

    OysterCulture: there are several different branches of the Camino, including a route up through Portugal, so perhaps that’s where your BIL was – we were on part of what they call the French route; weatherwise we didn’t see much in the way of rain, though we had plenty of overcast days, which were good for walking, and sunny intervals, which were good for photos!

    Jenni: thanks ma’am – the soup is definitely a warmer-upper type affair, which means it’s good for an Irish summer or equally welcome if you’ve just spent the day on foot

    Malachi: my own preference is for dried beans – though having a pressure cooker means I don’t have to spend hours waiting for them to cook; even then, I’ll occasionally use tinned beans out of convenience, so you can certainly give them a try

  8. If you know anyone giving out free trips to Ireland, please let us know! The soup sounds yummy.

  9. We are heading to Spain in the near future…that dish of spudness looks right up my alley, and makes me want to say ‘touche’…although I saw you said butter beans and those are not on my list of favorites…lean more towards other varieties and blame that one on my parents…you look like your trip, or I mean holiday is going well!

  10. What gorgeous pictures! And delicious soup – love cannelini beans.

  11. What a lovely time you must have had, notwithstanding blisters. The photos are beautiful, especially the one with the ‘golden’ tree. But without a doubt, the star of this post is your Caldo Gallego! A walk in the beautiful countryside and a bowl of this delicious soup – what more can you ask for?

  12. I made a similar soup recently! I love those filling, hearty & healthy soups!

    Lovely pictures of the landscape of Spain!

  13. I envy your travel! But that Caldo makes me want to stay at home and cook! GREG

  14. I guess the good thing about travel memories is that they keep us going back to new and beautiful places. The soup looks delicious. Perfect for a rainy day.

  15. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Duo Dishes: if I hear of anyone giving out trips over here, you will be the first to know, promise!

    Chef E: ah, great to hear that you have your own trip to Spain planned – can’t wait to hear all about it; as for the soup, if butter beans ain’t your thing, then you gotta go with whatever beans it is you like

    Reeni: thanks – we certainly passed through some very picturesque places while we were there

    Tangled Noodle: it’s a kind of get back to basics holiday – all you have to do on a given day is get up, walk until you find a little village cafe, rest a bit, then walk some more, then later on, have soup and whatever else is on offer for dinner – and, yes, that of course includes vino :)

    Sophie: thanks – as made here, this soup is definitely a filling meal in itself

    SippitySup: always glad if I inspire you to cook, though I fear that, in your present jaw-wired-shut state, that the caldo would have to be blended…

    Lori: you’re right I think – seeing places like this just makes me want to head right back out and travel some more

  16. Looks delicious! Thank you for the recipe

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