I was in need of inspiration for a vegetable-filled soup, so I looked through a few different books to get ideas. It was Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian that offered just what I was hoping to find. This book is a terrific reference for just about any vegetable cooked in just about any style. You can use the index to locate the vegetable in question, and then you’ll find several options from all around the world. As I flipped through the book, I made repeated mental notes on other dishes ranging from El Salvadoran to Indian that I want to try as soon as I can.
While vegetarian caldo gallego may be an oxymoron, it is definitely a full-flavored and satisfying soup. Traditionally, chorizo would be the source of rich flavor. Jaffrey’s recipe included onion, garlic, potato, white beans, chopped greens, and vegetable broth or broth from cooking beans. I felt that the essence of a traditional taste would be found in Spanish paprika, so I added a healthy dose of pimenton de la vera to the onions and potatoes as they cooked. Since time was at a premium this weekend, I resorted to using canned white beans instead of cooking dried ones, but I did use some homemade vegetable broth. As the potatoes, onions, and garlic cooked with the pimenton, the aroma was transfixing. I decided pimenton is my new best friend. It’ll be in everything I cook for the foreseeable future.
The finished soup was hearty and delicious. The smoky quality was there, and the potatoes, beans, and greens were a nice trio of tastes. We lunched on this soup with some chunks of manchego cheese. It might not have been completely traditional, but it was just what I was looking for this weekend. I made a double batch and can freeze some for future quick meals unless it disappears in the next few days.