By Emma Mitchell •
Updated: 22 Nov 2023 • 19:28
Spanish Winter Warmers. Credit: Image by azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik
The colder weather has been delayed for a few weeks but now looks to be on its way. So there’s no better time to start thinking in terms of warming Winter soups and stews, and what better way to enjoy them than by discovering the most famous dishes associated with each Spanish province.
Gurullos Con Conejo is one of those wonderful traditional Spanish stews that has a recipe that changes a little from family to family and from coast to campo. The main ingredient, Gurullos is a type of pasta that looks very like the Italian Orzo pasta, its irregularly shaped pellets look a little like large rice grains and are traditionally rolled between the thumb and forefinger.
The stew is made by combining the Gurullos with a variety of proteins (typically rabbit or lamb inland and white fish or lobster on the coast) with vegetables and spices and then slow-cooked in an earthenware pot. It’s one of the most beloved dishes of Almeria and a wonderful example made with rabbit can be found at Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant, Terraza Carmona, in Vera.
Cordero a la Pastora or Shepherd’s Lamb, is a dish believed to have originated in the pastoral regions where shepherds tended to their flocks. The preparation typically involves marinating the meat in a blend of garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. The lamb is often slow-cooked to allow the flavours to develop and the meat to become mouth-wateringly tender.
Fabada Asturiana is a rich bean stew from the Asturias region in the North West of Spain that is often served as a celebratory dish during festivals. The dish is thought to date back to the 19th century and is renowned for its combination of rich, hearty ingredients such as chorizo, morcilla and smoked pork shoulder. The star of the show is the white Asturian beans. The ingredients are combined and slow-cooked with saffron and paprika.
Sobrassada is not so much a dish, but a traditional Balearic sausage from the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. It’s thought to date back to the 14th century and is made from ground pork that is deeply seasoned with paprika, salt and other spices. Sobrassada has a deep red colour, is rich and spicy and is extremely popular simply spread on bread.
Bacalao a la Vizcaína or Codfish Basque-Style features salted cod (bacalao) cooked in a rich tomato and red pepper sauce with onions, garlic, and a touch of chilli for a subtle heat. The Basque people, who have a strong maritime heritage, developed this dish as a way to preserve and use salted cod, which was easily transportable and could withstand long sea journeys.
The cod in the dish is complemented by the sweet and savoury flavours in the tomato and red pepper sauce.
Puchero Canario is a stew typically consisting of a rich broth made with a variety of meats such as beef, chicken, pork, and sometimes chorizo, accompanied by an assortment of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Canary Islanders have adapted the recipe to local ingredients and preferences, creating a unique blend of flavours and blending indigenous African, and European culinary elements. It is often served during festive occasions and family gatherings.
Cocido Montañés, or Mountain Stew is a hearty stew that originated in the mountainous region of Cantabria, northern Spain. It’s a typically rural dish honed by farmers and shepherds using what ingredients were available to them locally and normally features pork belly or ribs, chorizo in a broth with beans, cabbage and potatoes.
Gachas Manchegas is a centuries-old peasant dish which involves combining flour, water, salt, and olive oil to form a thick porridge-like consistency which is then seasoned with garlic and paprika. People would then add whatever meats they had available such as lamb, rabbit, chorizo or other sausage. Gachas Manchegas was a staple in rural communities due to the simplicity and availability of the ingredients.
Sopa Castellana, or Castilian Soup, is a humble peasant soup that’s nutritious and filling. The soup is characterised by simple ingredients that include bread, garlic, paprika, and eggs. Sopa Castellana is prepared by toasting slices of old bread and then stirring them into a broth infused with garlic and paprika. When the soup has been simmering for ten or twenty minutes, eggs are cracked in carefully to poach gently in the broth and sometimes the soup is finished off with stale bread croutons fried in olive oil.
Escudella i Carn d’Olla is a stew dating back to medieval times and has evolved to become a symbol of Catalan gastronomy. The dish consists of two main components – the escudella, a rich broth made with a variety of meats such as pork, beef, and chicken, and the carn d’olla, which includes the meats and vegetables to be put into the broth which are typically served separately. The stew is often served with a type of pasta called Galets which looks a little like a short Rigatoni that has been bent into a seashell shape.
Cocido Extremeño comes from the region of Extremadura in the South West of Spain. As another rural dish using ingredients that would have been easily available to peasants at the time, it often features chorizo, morcilla, pork belly, chicken and sometimes beef. Vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and carrots would be added as well as beans or chickpeas if they were available. The whole thing is slow-cooked and seasoned with spices including paprika to produce a warming, rich and very filling stew.
Caldo Gallego is a traditional Galician soup from the North West of Spain. The dish typically features a tasty broth made with turnip tops or collard greens, along with potatoes, chorizo, and sometimes beans. It’s a dish from rural communities where farmers and shepherds had to use whatever ingredients they could get.
Cocido Madrileño is a traditional Spanish stew originating from Madrid, with roots tracing back to the 16th century. Chickpeas and a variety of meats such as chorizo, morcilla, bacon and beef are combined with potatoes and cabbage in a rich broth. It’s traditionally cooked in earthenware pots and over multiple courses and, like most rural dishes, varies from family to family.
Arroz al Horno, or oven-baked rice, originates from the practice of using communal wood-fired ovens and was a practical and efficient way for Valencian housewives to prepare a hearty meal. Arroz al Horno looks like a paella, combining rice, vegetables, beans and ‘slaughter meats’ such as chorizo, morcilla and pork ribs with paprika, garlic and saffron. Unlike paella, which is cooked in a shallow pan over a fire, Arroz al Horno is cooked in earthware pots in the oven.
Pochas a la Riojana showcases the pochas, a type of white bean that’s native to the La Rioja region. The stew combines the pochas with chorizo, morcilla, bell peppers and tomatoes with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices to create a rich and warming stew that’s incredibly nutritious.
Menestra de Verduras is a traditional Spanish vegetable stew from Northern Spain that is centuries old. The word ‘menestra’ refers to a medley of vegetables such as artichokes, peas, carrots, asparagus, and green beans seasoned with garlic and herbs and slow-cooked until tender. It’s a dish that showcases local, seasonal vegetables.
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Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
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