Caldo Gallego

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

We couldn’t write about Galicia without including a recipe for caldo gallego, the traditional, restorative soup of Galicia. With a little bread, you’ve got a great meal on your hands. María’s version was especially good, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she grows her own greens. This soup is even better the next day.

NotesGRELOS: Grelos are turnip greens. They’re slightly bitter—like broccoli rabe—but very tender when braised. They’re wonderful sautéed in olive oil with a bit of garlic and are the star in caldo gallego. They grow all over Galicia, and you are likely to see patches of the greens in most backyards.

UNTO: Unto is a cured pork belly product, sort of like the Spanish version of pancetta. We couldn’t seem to find it anywhere outside of Galicia. There it’s used as the base for caldo gallego and is why, I think, caldo gallego tastes better in Galicia than anywhere else you might be served it.

4 to 6 servings


Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursehot appetizer, main course



Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, smoky

Type of Dishhot soup


  • ½ pound thickly sliced pancetta or slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 turnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound turnip greens (or other dark leafy green), stemmed and coarsely chopped


  1. Cook the pancetta in a large heavy pot over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the beans, add them to the pot, along with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam, then lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are beginning to soften.

  2. Add the onion, potatoes, and turnips and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chorizo and greens and cook for 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.


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I loved reading this comment; it reminded me of my own struggle up o'cebreiro 19 days ago, 22 oct.2011. I thought my heart would burst! Callicia was a definite dietary improvement, but caldo callego was still the only way to get green veg. in a cafe. I love it, and I'm about to try my first recipe, without the meat as i am vego. I never saw any meat in the bowls of it I ate in Spain, and few beans either.

I remember eating a bowl of this great soup while walking up to O Cebreiro. There was this little cafe and I was so hungry. A herd of cows were being driven down the narrow road out front and I was talking to a young man who traveled from South America to Spain. The caldo gallego did indeed revive me and the flavour was delicious.


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