Caldo Gallego, Spanish White Bean Soup

Caldo gallego is a Spanish white bean soup and if you are visiting Miami for the first time, it is a great place to enjoy a bowl of this hearty and flavorful soup. You will find Spanish and Cuban restaurants all over the city but if you want to experience true Latin culinary flavors, head over to SW 8th street. Better known by locals as “Calle Ocho” in the area of the city called Little Havana, it is known as the heart of Miami’s Cuban community.

Whether you decide to eat in a small cafeteria or the locally famous Versailles restaurant, try starting your meal with an order of caldo gallego. This traditional dish is originally from the Galician region of Spain and there are many versions, from a thin broth based soup to one with an almost stew like consistency. No matter which version you get, it should be a delicious soup rich with smoked pork, sausage, beans, potatoes and greens.

Only order a cup of this hearty soup then try a medianoche sandwich made with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles or perhaps lechon asado (Cuban roast pork) with black beans and rice or a dish of arroz con pollo (yellow rice with chicken). Make sure to save a little room for flan to end your meal along with a cortadito (a small Cuban coffee).

Caldo Gallego, A Spanish White Bean Soup That Is A Taste of Little Havana

If you would like to bring some of the tastes of Little Havana into your own kitchen, a bowl of caldo gallego would be a great place to start. While originating in Spain, the Cuban community in Florida has given it their own twist just as I have done with my easy recipe. While many versions start with soaking dried beans over night and making a rich stock from ham hocks the day before, I’m sharing a quicker and yet very flavorful version of this comforting Spanish white bean soup.

Caldo Gallego, A Spanish White Bean Soup

  • 2 slices of pancetta or thick bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. Spanish chorizo (casings removed), andouille or kielbasa sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. water
  • 2  15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium potatoes (I use Yukon gold), peeled and diced
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 to 3 c. fresh turnip greens, kale or collards, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste

Add pancetta or bacon to a large pot and cook until starting to brown. Add the oil and sausage and cook until the edges start to brown. Add onion and cook until soft, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the beans, potatoes, turnips, greens and seasonings, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. The soup is ready to serve now but will improve in taste if kept at a very low simmer, partially covered, for another 30 minutes or longer. If you would like a thicker consistency, you can lightly mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Ladle the soup into  bowls and serve with crusty bread.

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While you may not have the opportunity to visit Miami and Little Havana, you can certainly experience one of the area’s well known Latin dishes in your own kitchen. This budget friendly meal is quick and easy to prepare so my suggestion is to make an extra large pot of it and know that you will be rewarded with not one but several delicious meals to share with your family. On days when you have plenty of time, start with dried beans soaked overnight and prepare the soup with a leftover ham bone or a ham hock for additional flavor. Either way, caldo gallego is a delicious white bean soup that is good anytime of the year so I do hope you will try this flavorful, comforting meal soon.

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109 thoughts on “Caldo Gallego, Spanish White Bean Soup

  1. Good soup! I’ve had this dish, in Tampa, but have never made it myself. It’s SO good — I really need to give it a go. I’m 50/50 these days between using dried beans and canned. So much easier and quicker with canned, isn’t it? And the quality of canned beans generally is pretty good. Anyway, the quality of this soup is beyond pretty good — it’s excellent! Really good stuff — thanks.

    1. Hi John, I’m glad to know that you are familiar with caldo gallego. Even though I keep dried beans in my pantry, more often than not, I use can. The are perfect when you want to put together a quick meal. Thank you very much for your nice compliment, it is much appreciated.

    1. Hi Jenna, Beans are a terrific ingredient to use, I think you would like them in this soup. BTW, I can get on your blog for some reason. When I try to click on, it just keeps refreshing. 😦

      1. hi Karen, I just now saw this, and I’m sorry about the trouble, no one else has mentioned anything…I was having trouble with a different website the other day and tried it on a different browser and it worked fine…computers! there’s always something!

  2. I’m not familiar with Caldo Gallego but the flavor profile is outstanding! On this cold, dark (Oh that time change!) and rainy winter morning a bowl of bowl of this comforting soup would be the highlight of my day.

  3. Many of those little restaurants in Barcelona, that I like to frequent are Galician – I love their hearty food. Interestingly the Spanish had to discover America to bring back the white beans, paprika, potatoes etc. The New World has had a huge food impact on Iberia and later the whole of Europe.
    I’m quite sure your recipe would more than pass muster in any Spanish restaurant!

    1. I appreciate your kind words about my caldo gallego recipe Mad Dog, thank you. It is amazing how ingredients have traveled the world and influenced the cooking of other countries.

  4. I grew up in Galicia and most of my family are still there, so I am very familiar with the Caldo Gallego. Many Galicians had to emigrate in the late 60s and early 70s due to the financial crisis, so I am not surprised you have found this lovely traditional meal in Florida.
    I have never come across a Cuban restaurant, but if I do, I’d love to try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Happy to share this post with you Fatima. If you ever get to visit Florida, especially Miami, you would find much that might remind you of home.

      1. I visited Orlando in September 1991, but I can’t remember seeing any Spanish-style restaurants, although I must admit I wanted to experience American food and culture: that was the whole point of going. I also visited New Orleans and I absolutely loved it. I discovered Blackened food answer Gumbo, which I still cook today (I bought a Paul Prudhomme cookery book).

  5. Cuban food is one area that I have not had the opportunity to try, and I’d really like to do so. The restaurants you describe and the recipe are very appealing!

    1. Hi Mae, I do hope you get a chance to try Cuban food, there is much to like. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m happy to know you enjoyed the post.

  6. This looks like a great soup on rainy day here in California. Thanks for all the good information and the recipe. Now I know what to eat the next time I am visiting Miami.

  7. Sounds delish to me. I think this would be great to have on the back burner when company is coming. While I like beans cooked from scratch your version sounds so good when so much else is going on.

    1. Thank you Madonna, for your compliment. I agree that canned beans are a real time saver in the kitchen and I always have a variety in my pantry.

  8. One of Big Man’s most favourite uncles is Galician. He’s married to Big Man’s Andalucian aunt and she makes wonderful soups from the north like this. We made chorizo at home this past weekend, so now I can make this wonderful soup!

  9. We are still in soup season, it’s been snowing on and off all day, so this soup sounds like the perfect meal. And using the canned beans means that you can put this together in no time!

    1. Hi Eva, Yes you certainly are still in soup season. I totally agree about canned beans being a great way to get a meal on the table. Thank you for your compliment.

  10. This sounds great Karen! I have never heard much about Cuban food, but a friend is about to travel there for a holiday so I can tell her to look out for this dish. I will also try it myself…. we can get vegan chorizo and bacon or ham herre! 😀 Not authentic, I know, but probably just as delicious! I will let you know how it went! Thanks for sharing!

    1. While it might not be authentic Cathy, I do know that your vegan version will still be delicious and that is what counts. Thank you and enjoy!

  11. Tho’ Miami has never drawn me to its bosom I love the idea of the Caldo Gallega . . . .as a full, hearty, tasty meal and not the Opening Overture 🙂 !

  12. I just Pinned this recipe, Karen, and it really tempts me! We have several good Cuban restaurants I enjoy but there’s nothing like making these wonderful warm dishes at home and being able to enjoy without restriction! I’m “in” on this one, for sure. This would surely be so flavorful! I want the flan as well! 🙂

  13. I’m ready to hop on a plane, Karen! Better yet, try this recipe that looks doable without the wonderful Cuban/Spanish setting!

    Thank you, my friend!

    1. Thank you for your compliment Sherry, I’m glad you like the recipe. You won’t miss the turnip at all if you leave it out as there is only one in the soup. My mother never cooked them but growing up I would order slow cooked chopped turnips and their greens at restaurants. They are a popular side dish in the southern part of the U.S.

  14. I’m not familiar with caldo gallego, but this sounds like one delicious soup, Karen! I love the chorizo, bacon and smoked paprika in there. So many awesome flavors! I could definitely go for a bowl of this for lunch today. 🙂

    1. Hi David, until I lived in Miami I had never heard of the soup either. Once I tried it, caldo gallego became one of my favorites. I do think you would enjoy the soup a lot.

    1. Hi Sylvia, Yes this is a nice meal all on its own. A crusty bread to soak up every last bit would be great. Thank you and I hope your family will enjoy it.

  15. It looks and sounds like a wonderful comforting winter soup. I have been recently eating more beans then ever and find myself really addicted. I haven’t made a bean soup for ages, so I should maybe give this one a go soon!

  16. What a delicious combination of flavors, Karen! I just returned from NYC where I went to Eataly and brought back a spicy sausage that I think will work beautifully in this!

  17. That soup looks great Karen. Just the sort I like. I really wish I could say I was visiting but alass I am not.

  18. I’ve never been to Miami before- must place it on my bucket list! This soup reminds me of the Spanish Fabada Asturiana, except with out the blood sausage- anything with bacon and white beans has got to be good!

    1. Hi Fran, I’ve not had the fava bean and blood sausage stew but you are right, I think it would have similar flavors. You would enjoy visiting the cosmopolitan city of Miami, lots to see and do.

  19. This looks so warm and wonderful Karen!! And for me, sort of nostalgic since we lived in Spain for 12 years and ate lots of stews with beans– love the chorizo and smoked paprika!! Wish we could have dropped in for dinner the night you came up with this! xo

    1. Hi Rhonda, I’m glad that this soup recipe brought back memories of your time living in Spain. I’m sure it was a wonderful experience. Head my way and I’ll happily share a dinner with you. 🙂

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