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Cuban White Bean Soup (Caldo Gallego)

Cuban White Bean Soup (Caldo Gallego)

This hearty soup is loaded with white beans, smoked ham, beef, chorizo and vegetables. This is my take on Caldo Gallego, which is a popular Spanish Soup.

 

Even though this is a Spanish dish, Cubans have incorporated it into their cuisine. Caldo Gallego is available at most Cuban restaurants, if not as a regular menu item, then as a featured soup.

 

There’s a reason this is a beloved dish, it is delicious! It’s definitely more than a soup or stew, it’s a meal.

 

The only extras this meal needs is a piece of crusty bread for dipping. And, if you need to stretch the servings, add a side of white rice too.

 

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To make this white bean soup you will need

14 ounce Dry White Beans (such as Cannellini or Navy) we used Cannellini, rinsed and soaked

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, finely diced

1 large Carrot, diced

3 – 4 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

½ teaspoon Cumin

1 pound Top Sirloin Steak, cut into 1 inch pieces

½ teaspoon Salt, plus more if needed at the end

3 – 3 ½ ounces Spanish Chorizo, casings removed and cut into ¼ inch rounds

1 – 1 ½ pound Smoked Ham Shanks or Ham Hocks, rinsed

6 cups Chicken Broth

8 cups Water

1 Bay Leaf

1 large Potato, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (we used russet potato)

1 bunch Swiss Chard, about 6 leaves – thoroughly rinsed, stalks removed and leaves chopped

The ingredients for the Cuban white bean soup displayed on a white table.

 

Start with preparing the white beans

  • Pick through the beans to remove any foreign objects, like small stones.
  • Add the beans to a colander and rinse them well with cold water and let them drain.
  • Next, soak the beans. Use the overnight or the quick soak method.

 

Overnight method:  Add the white beans to a pot. Cover the beans with 3-4 cups of water. Let the beans soak overnight. Drain the water completely and rinse the beans well with fresh, cold water and drain.

 

Quick soaking method:  Add the beans and 6-8 cups of water to a large pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover and allow them to soak for one hour. Rinse and drain the beans well. I use the quick soak method and it has worked well so far.

 

Prep Work

If you’re using the quick soak method, use the time to prep the rest of the ingredients. Now, I’m not going to lie to you, there’s a bit of prep work involved for this hearty soup, but it’s worth it!

  • Dice the onions and carrots. They are going in at the same time so keep them in the same bowl.
  • Mince the garlic.
  • Measure out the oregano and cumin.
  • Rinse the smoked pork shanks (or ham hocks). Smoked meat tends to be salty, rinsing helps control some of the salt.
  • Cut the sirloin steak into bite sized cubes and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • Remove the casing from the chorizo and slice into bite sized rounds.
  • Peel and cut the potato into bite sized pieces. Keep the cut potato in a bowl with cold water so it doesn’t brown.
  • Rinse the chard well, dirt tends to get trapped in the bumpy leaves. Remove the thick stems (reserve them for another use) and chop the leaves.

 

To help with prep work, I like to use glass nesting bowls. They keep me organized and stress free during cooking. They’re especially helpful when I’m making a recipe with various ingredients that go in at different times.

 

Here are the ingredients all prepped and ready to go. The beans have been soaked that’s why they’re nice and plump!

The prepped ingredients for the white bean soup displayed on a white table.

 

Make a flavor base for the white bean soup

The secret to making absolutely delicious soup is to start with a flavor base. Different recipes will use different ingredients, but the concept remains the same, cooking vegetables gently in oil/fat until they start to soften. Then you build the soup from there.

 

Examples of flavor bases include: sofrito – really common in Caribbean and Latin American cuisine and mirepoix – a combination of onions, carrots and celery that’s French in origin.

 

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions and carrots. Cook the vegetables for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent and start to soften.

 

Add the garlic, dried oregano and cumin to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

 

Brown the beef and the chorizo

Add the beef and chorizo to the pot. Cook the meat for 5 minutes or so, until the beef is brown. Stir and turn occasionally to brown on all sides.

 

Make the soup

Now that we have an amazing flavor base going, and the beef is nice and browned we can build the soup!

 

Add the chicken broth, water and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients well, while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot.

 

Add the ham shank/hocks and white beans to the soup. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil; it will take about 10 minutes.

 

Once boiling, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. We want to cook the ham in the broth to really get that flavor into the soup. Keep the liquid boiling, but not too vigorously. Lower or raise the heat as needed.

 

As a reference, once the liquid came to a boil, we cooked the soup on medium for the entire cooking time. That said, cooktops vary and different pots conduct heat differently, so you have to keep an eye on it.

 

Set the ham on a cutting board and allow it to cool. Continue cooking the beans, covered and on medium heat while you chop the ham.

 

When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, fat and bone. Chop the remaining meat and add it back to the soup. Discard the skin, fat and bone.

 

Cover the pot and cook the soup for approximately 45 – 60 minutes, or until the beans are just about tender. Stir the soup occasionally, more often as it starts to thicken so that the ingredients don’t stick and burn on the bottom.

 

Finish the Cuban White Bean Soup

Add the potatoes and chard to the white bean soup. If you had the potatoes in water remember to drain them before adding them in. Yes, I have forgotten!

 

Continue cooking the soup for 15-17 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chard is wilted. Stir the soup more often from this point forward, as it should be nice and thick.

 

Taste the Cuban white bean soup and add salt to taste if needed. As a reference we added 1½ teaspoon to ours.

 

Cook’s note: We want to hold off until the end before adding extra salt to this soup since the chorizo, ham shanks and chicken broth all contain a good amount already.

Cuban white bean soup served in a terracotta bowl with sliced bread on the side.

 

Want more delicious bean recipes? Try one of these favorites:

Chickpea Soup

Potaje de Lentejas (Cuban Lentil Stew)

Navy Bean Soup

Cuban Style Red Beans

 

Cuban white bean soup served in a terracotta bowl with sliced bread on the side.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Cuban White Bean Soup

This hearty soup is loaded with white beans, smoked ham, beef, chorizo and vegetables. This is my take on Caldo Gallego, which is a popular Spanish Soup.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Soak the Beans1 hr
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: cuban food, cuban soups, white beans
Servings: 6
Calories: 592kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 14 ounce Dry White Beans rinsed and soaked
  • 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion finely diced
  • 1 large Carrot diced
  • 3 - 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 pound Top Sirloin Steak cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon Salt plus more if needed at the end
  • 3 - 3 ½ ounces Spanish Chorizo casings removed and cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 - 1 ½ pound Smoked Ham Shanks or Ham Hocks rinsed
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth
  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 large Potato peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (we used russet potato)
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard about 6 leaves thoroughly rinsed, stalks removed and leaves chopped

Instructions

Prepare the white beans

  • Pick through the beans to remove any foreign objects, like small stones.
  • Add the beans to a colander and rinse them well with cold water and let drain.

Soak the beans

  • Overnight method: Add the white beans to a pot. Cover the beans with 3-4 cups of water. Let the beans soak overnight. Drain the water completely and rinse the beans well with fresh, cold water and drain.
  • Quick soaking method: Add the beans and 6-8 cups of water to a large pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover and allow them to soak for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans well.

Start the White Bean Soup

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions and carrots. Cook the vegetables for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent and start to soften.
  • Add the garlic, dried oregano and cumin to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Sprinkle the beef with ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the beef and chorizo to the pot. Cook the meat for 5 minutes or so, until the beef is brown. Stir and turn the beef pieces occasionally to brown on all sides.
  • Add the chicken broth, water and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients well, while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the ham shank/hocks and white beans to the soup. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil; it will take about 10 minutes.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Keep the liquid boiling, but not too vigorously. Lower or raise the heat as needed.
  • Set the ham on a cutting board and allow it to cool.
  • Continue cooking the beans, covered and on medium heat while you chop the ham.
  • When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, fat and bone. Chop the remaining meat and add it back to the soup. Discard the skin, fat and bone.
  • Cover the pot and cook the soup for approximately 45 - 60 minutes, or until the beans are just about tender. Stir the soup occasionally, more often as it starts to thicken so that the ingredients don’t stick and burn on the bottom.
  • Add the potatoes and chard to the white bean soup. If you had the potatoes in water remember to drain them before adding them to the soup.
  • Continue cooking the soup for 15-17 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chard is wilted.
  • Stir the soup more often from this point forward, as it should be thickening.
  • Taste the Cuban white bean soup and add salt to taste if needed. As a reference we added 1½ teaspoon to ours.

Notes

We want to hold off until the end before adding extra salt to this soup since the chorizo, ham shanks and chicken broth all contain a good amount already.

Nutrition

Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 1453mg | Potassium: 2269mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2257IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 11mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.


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