Sopa de caldo

Sopa de caldo, apart from the benefits that its ingredients can bring, is comfort food in Spain. Kids, older people and the toothless can all enjoy it and even if it’s not on the menu most restaurants can give you a plate as it is the stock for many other dishes. It’s also very easy to make.Basically sopa is stock. I like to make a large quantity on a Saturday morning and use it over the weekend both as sopa and to make other dishes: Thai noodle soups, meat dishes or whatever. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you can do just the same but just leave out the meat.

So I go to the butcher’s and get a ham bone, chicken carcass and maybe an off-cut of knuckle or whatever. Then I put these things into a big a big sauce-pan with some vegetables – the typical ones here are potatoes, carrots, leeks, parsnip, celery, runner beans and turnips. Plus onion and garlic of course. At this time of the year you can add yams, pumpkin or any other seasonal veg you like. I usually throw in a couple of bay leaves and a handful of parsley stalks and some black pepper. I don’t add salt as there’s plenty from the bones. Then I cook it in the pressure cooker, but you can leave it in a normal pan and cook it over a low heat a good while.When it’s ready you can take off the liquid and use it as stock or sopa.

As this was usually made with low quality ingredients, normally in Spain the rest is discarded except at Christmas or if you are making cocido. To make sopa from this caldo (broth) you heat it up and add some very small pasta. If it’s not available in your part of the world just break up fine spaghetti and throw it into the boiling stock. Reduce the heat slightly so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate. The ratio of pasta to liquid is very personal as some like their sopa thick and others more watery. When the pasta is cooked the sopa is ready to serve.

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