Galician White Bean Soup, with Kale and Optional Chorizo: Jump to recipe.
The first thing I ever learned about Galicia is that people go there specifically to eat. It’s a remote part of Spain, the northwest corner; this link from the Galician tourist office provides a nice intro to the region. It was settled by Celts, there are a lot of sheep, and it’s mountainous and craggy—one reason it’s been able to stay in tune with its Celtic roots, because apparently the Moors were not up for clambering over damp, chilly, rocky promontories.
One of the region’s renowned dishes is fabada. According to my trusty Time-Life Foods of the World: Spain and Portugal volume, it is “a fine body-warming bean stew….called the most ‘solid’ single dish in Spain.” Made from local white beans called faha (which are, you guessed it, the local version of fava beans), classic fabada features, in addition to the beans, a veritable entire pig: salt pork, serrano ham, chorizo, and the black blood sausage that never fails to give me pause when I run into it in other countries. (You rarely see it in the US other than at specialty butchers.)
It does NOT have kale. Kale soup, made with linguiça and potatoes, is a specialty of nearby Portugal. But a recent dip into what’s turning into my favorite winter cookbook inspired me to get a little creative. Betty Rosbottom’s Sunday Soups book served as the jumping off point for this hybrid of Galician fabada, Portuguese kale soup, and—well, an undeniable urge to sprinkle bacon on something. Because I am not going to track down salt pork. I get that it’s flavorful, but I also think it’s just weird to boil a piece of fatty salty meat and then you throw it away. Am I right?
Galician White Bean Soup—properly referred to as Galician-inspired, but that makes the url too long—goes together quickly. The biggest thing is just making sure you have all the veggies chopped and ready to go.
This video shows the order and just how easy it is.
Note: Should you opt for the vegetarian version, you will want to up your paprika, and check that both salt and garlic are sufficient, though not too much.