Caldo Gallego, a Spanish White Bean Soup with Sherry Vinegar

A beautiful dish for early autumn evenings, this beautiful aniseedy broth with lightly braised haricot beans, tomatoes, courgette and fennel is seasoned with a really good Spanish sherry vinegar, chilli and fennel seeds but it’s the punchy mojo verde – a garlicky green herb and garlic sauce originating from the Canary Islands – that makes it so vibrant. I’m a big fan of condiments such as this and I make a different one every week to stir into soups and braises or to serve on the side of all sorts of dishes including roasted vegetables, every pasta dish imaginable, falafel and burgers.

Ingredients

4 tbsp Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 Spanish onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 courgette, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
100g mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
500g hot vegetable stock
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp good quality sherry vinegar
x2 tins of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns

For the mojo verde (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
50g stale sourdough, broken into small pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp good quality sherry vinegar
2-3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of sea salt 
150 ml Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

How I make it

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it’s hot add the fennel seeds and the chilli and stir around for a couple of minutes. Then add the onion and the garlic and cook until they are soft and transparent.

Next add the courgette, the fennel, the tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Cover and leave to simmer for five minutes.

Then add the lemon juice, the sherry vinegar and the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. You can cook this for five minutes longer but I prefer to keep all the vegetables whole so as to savour their individual flavours.

Whilst the soup is cooking, make the mojo verde by combining all the ingredients in a food processor. Season to your taste.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the sauce and plenty of crusty bread.

Keep any remaining sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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