CL's Yborhood Guide: The Columbia Restaurant's Spanish Bean Soup recipe

(This is an excerpt from Andrew Huse's The Columbia Restaurant. Read a recipe for The Columbia's signature Snapper Alicante here, and another excerpt about restaurant's rollicking characters of the 1920s here.)

This is the soup that made the Columbia famous for food. The Columbia's founder, Casimiro Hernandez Sr., adapted his version from the heavy, multicourse cocido madrileno stew of Spain. His simplified version served elements of the original feast — meat, potatoes, and garbanzos — in one bowl. By the 1920s, newspapers boasted of Tampa's three great delights: sunshine, cigars, and soup. For a thicker soup, stew it longer.

Spanish Bean Soup

1/2 pound garbanzo beans (chickpeas), dried

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1 ham bone

1 beef bone

1/4 pound salt pork, finely diced

1 onion, finely chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pinch of saffron

Salt to taste

1 chorizo (Spanish sausage), sliced in thin rounds

Wash garbanzos. Soak overnight with 1 tablespoon salt in enough water to cover the beans. Drain the salted water from the beans. Place beans in a 4-quart soup kettle; add 2 wuarts of water and the ham and beef bones. Cook for 45 minutes over low heat, skimming foam from the top. Fry salt pork slowly in a skillet. Add chopped onion and saute lightly. Add to beans along with potatoes, paprika, and saffron. Add salt to taste. When potatoes are tender, remove from heat and add chorizo. Serve hot in deep soup bowls. Serves 4.

(Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.)

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