We’re finally starting to thaw out around here. The snow piles have shrunk noticeably, and I just saw my first patch of grass yesterday where the snow had receded from the salt line along the street. Here’s hoping March’s early leonine behavior turns lambish right on schedule [though it’ll be a shame not to break Boston’s all-time snowfall record (107.9 inches) after coming within a mere inch or two].
I’m making soup and will continue to do so for the next few months. I won’t stop until all the chill is gone from the air. This particular soup is perfect for these transition months from winter to spring. It hails from Galicia, the northwest region of Spain where the landscape at this time of year resembles lush, rainy Ireland in seeming tribute to the area's medieval Celtic roots. As such, the food is appropriate for those raw, drizzly days when the wet wind cuts right through to your bones. This version uses canned navy beans, potatoes, collard greens, and a winning trifecta of pork. That is to say: bacon, ham, and chorizo.
If you can find Spanish smoked paprika, like pimentón de la Vera, use that as it imparts a distinctly Spanish flavor. Otherwise, use regular sweet paprika and you’ll get some of that smoky flavor from the chorizo.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
2 15.5-oz. cans of navy beans, well rinsed and drained
1 lb. chorizo, sliced
1 ham bone or 1/2-lb. smoked pork hock, skin scored
6 cups chicken stock or water
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups shredded collard greens (or turnip greens, kale, or escarole)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the bacon fat from the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika, and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the beans, chorizo, ham bone or hock, and stock, and increase the heat to high. While heating, prepare the potatoes and greens, and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the ham bone or hock, reserving the meat to shred and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately garnished with bacon.
Source: Inspired by Soup of the Day by Ellen Brown, who adapted it from Jose Garces of Amada in Philadelphia.