28 April 2011

Caldo - Rustic Spanish Soup

Top soup with crispy fried ham
Spanish caldo is one of those meals which comes from the depths of the Spanish countryside when field workers, needing something nutritional would light the fire and throw whatever they had into the pot. This makes 'caldo' one of those recipes where there are absolutely no rules.

Caldo generaly refers to a stock, with stock comes soup - it all depends on what you decide to add. Spanish supermarkets and greengrocers sell caldo packs which usually consist of a couple of carrots, cabbage, turnip or swede, boiled up with a good chicken stock caldo can offer a highly nutritious meal. Not something that would interest the Spanish gourmet? Think again, a good caldo has its roots buried in the heart of Andalucian culture not unlike the paella from Valencia, it also taste very good and is so versatile it really does welcome a whole range of ingredients.

What really makes a caldo is a little sliced serrano ham, you can also use crispy fried pancetta. The ham works during the cooking stage and also a few crispy shavings on top of the soup offer a bit if crunch alongside the veg.

Ingredients (10 servings)

4 Carrots
1 Onion
1/2 Small cabbage
1 Small swede
1ltr Chicken stock
200g Chick peas (soaked overnight or from a jar)
6 Black peppercorns
1 Bayleaf
1ltr Water

How to Cook:

1. Boil up a basic chicken stock using leftover chicken or a raw carcass.

2. Remove the carcass from the stock.

3. Meanwhile, prep the veg by roughly breaking the carrots (skins left on), cubing the swede, quartering the onion and chopping the cabbage into large pieces.

4. Add the veg to the stock along with the peppercorns and bay.

5. Hand carve about 150g of serrano ham, chop into strips and add to the soup, along with the chick peas.

6. Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for about an hour and a half  until the veg becomes tender.

7. Caldo is ready! Serve in soup bowls.

For crispy ham or pancetta carve a few thin slices and lightly fry in olive oil before placing over the top of the soup.

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