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Potaje de Vigilia (Spanish Fasting Soup with Beans, Thickened with Bread)

Adapted from Claudia Roden and Clifford Wright
Course Entree
Cuisine Soups/Stews
Keyword beans
Author TheSpicedLife


For the beans:

  • 4 cups total mixed dried white beans, should include some chickpeas if you want to be authentic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • a drizzle of Spanish extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t salt

For the soup:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 T Spanish extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 6 medium sized red potatoes, chopped (I never peel)
  • around 6 cups good quality stock to cover potatoes by an inch or two
  • 1 lb spinach, stems removed, chopped
  • 3-4 hard boiled eggs, yolks removed and set aside, whites chopped

For the fried bread puree:

  • 8 thick slices French bread, not baguette
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • approximately 1/4 cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 1/2 t ground cumin
  • pinch of hot pepper, such as cayenne
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • Extra smoked paprika and vinegar for serving


  1. Extra smoked paprika and vinegar for serving
  2. Begin by soaking the beans the night before. I do this in the pot I am going to cook them in. The next day, cover them with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until tender, checking to make sure they remain completely covered by the water. When they are tender, add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let cook another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside until you are ready for them.
  3. Next (this is a soup that can simmer for a while, so just make this when it is convenient, at least an hour before dinner) heat a large Dutch oven with olive oil. When it is shimmering, add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until golden, but not super browned. Add the potatoes and toss with the onions. Cover the potatoes by 2 inches of water with a good quality stock--I used the turkey stock I had in the freezer from the Thanksgiving turkey. Add more salt if using a homemade stock. Bring to a boil, and then cover, reducing the heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender (if it is close to dinner, cook until quite tender, if the soup will be gently simmering for a while, cook until crisp tender). Add the spinach and mix it in.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a skillet with the 1/4-cup olive oil. Add the garlic--when the garlic starts sizzling, add the bread and cook until each side is golden. For the first few slices this took about 6 minutes, but as I went on, the sides cooked faster, so keep an eye on them. Also keep a close eye on the garlic--you want it golden brown but not burnt. As each item (garlic clove or bread) is ready, remove it to the food processor. When all of the bread and garlic has been fried, add the spices, vinegar and hard boiled egg yolks to the food processor as well. Puree until smooth, adding either the cooking water from the potatoes or the beans as needed to thin it out.
  5. At this point, when everything is ready--the beans, the potatoes and the bread puree--add the beans with their cooking water and the puree to the potatoes. Stir and bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer, stirring, to help dissolve the bread puree into the soup. This soup should be quite thick, more of a stew, but if you want it thinner add more stock. Right before serving, mix in the chopped hard boiled egg whites. Some of us liked the soup with a drizzle more of vinegar and a sprinkle of the smoked paprika.