While I love preparing and sharing tapas with family and friends, I really look forward to Winter because it’s the time of year that the body and soul asks for the heartier, heavier comfort dishes of my country.
Whilst they may be rich, they can also be very hearty and nourishing. Think stews of gut healing chicken or beef stocks; low GI legumes such as lentils, chick peas or white beans; leafy green vegetables including leek, spinach, kale and immune boosting herbs such as garlic, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Meats, chicken, chorizo or pork are usually always included, but can be omitted.
And though they may be very filling, in Spanish culture, these dishes are only eaten at lunch time, allowing plenty of time to digest, and not leaving you in bed with a belly full of chick peas!
Here are some of my all time favourite Spanish Winter warmers:
Sopa de Ajo – Garlic Soup
My Grandmother used to make this very simple garlic soup with an egg cracked into it whenever someone was sick. The garlic and broth make it a very nourishing soup to nurse you back to good health if you’re unwell, and keep you warm throughout the cold months.
Caldo Gallego – Galician Broth
Traditionally served in earthen bowls this hearty soup originates from the Galician region in the Northwest of Spain. It includes chicken or beef stock, white beans, cabbage, collard greens, potatoes, as well as pork, chorizo, ham or bacon.
Lentejas - Lentils
Lentejas, o las tomas o las dejas (a rhyme meaning “lentils, take ‘em or leave ‘em”) and as a child, I always took them. This dish was my all time favourite and I think the chorizo had something to do with it. You can also omit the chorizo and have ‘clean’ lentejas. This dish comprises of lentils, chorizo, garlic, carrots, onions, potato and parprika.
Another hot and heavy dish reserved for the middle of the day, this dish originates from the region of Asturias (next to Galicia). It is made with large white beans, pork shoulder or bacon, morcilla (black pudding), chorizo and saffron.
Chickpeas are the star(s) of this dish Madrileno (meaning from Madrid) which though cooked as a one dish stew, is traditionally served separately. Beginning with the stock of the stew, served with noodles, then the chickpeas and vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and turnips, and finally the meat is served consisting of pork belly, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage) and chicken. The stock is enriched with ham bone and beef spine bone). Talk about nutrient dense!
Soupy Arroz con Bogavante
For seafood lovers, this dish really hits the spot. Think paella, but soupier, with lobster and peeled prawns with a rice that has absorbed a decadent fish stock with tomato and rice.
Churros con Choclate
Obviously not a soup, unless you can count chocolate milk as soup…which we will here. Churros con chocolate, though not good for the waist line, are most definitely good for the soul, especially on cold winter afternoons.
I hope these recipes have inspired you to try including some rural, hearty, Spanish dishes this winter.