Caldo...cauldron...soup pot. Gallego means "from Galicia," a region in Spain. Caldo Gallego a traditional Spanish soup with as many variations as minestrone. It is generally a brothy soup with diced meat, vegetables and greens. The version we made came to include pastrami. How this happened was that I started chopping up and throwing the ends of pastrami—those pieces that aren't big enough to go through the slicer—into the soup pot. Pretty soon I noticed that the pepper and spice crust that makes pastrami pastrami was pretty good.
You need about a pound of meat, total. At the deli counter ask for a couple thick (like 1/2 inch) slices of pastrami and a couple thick slices of baked ham. Emphasize "thick" because they're used to slicing meat as thinly as possible for sandwiches. You'll probably have to tell them you're using it for soup to convince them you mean it.
1. Briskly sauté the onion in oil. Add the celery and carrot as they are diced.
2. When the onion browns, add the garlic and herbs. Give them a minute or two, then add the chick peas, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, them back to a gentle simmer. Cover and forget about it for an hour. Or until the chick peas are almost done.
3. Add the tomatoes, water, ham and pastrami. Cover and simmer for another half hour or so--until the chick peas are fully cooked.
4. Roughly chop the greens and add them to the soup. Cook for 15 minutes, or until they are tender and no longer bitter. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve.
Like many soups, this is better the next day. Or at least after it cools and is reheated. In the spirit of movie soups, I make this Sunday morning and let it simmer while reading the paper. I also make the focaccia dough. I put both of them in the refrigerator and go out for the afternoon. That evening I shape the focaccia and bake it while reheating the soup.
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