Potaje De Garbanzos Con Bacalao Recipe – Spanish Chickpea And Cod Stew

Greetings, fellow gastronomes and culture enthusiasts! Today, we’re setting sail on a culinary voyage to explore the savory world of “Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao” Also known as “Potaje de Vigilia,” a traditional Spanish dish that holds a special place in the hearts and kitchens of many. This hearty stew is more than just food; it’s a culinary expression of faith, tradition, and the art of turning humble ingredients into something truly divine.

best Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao recipe by the mediterranean fork

Potaje de Vigilia,” pronounced “po-TAH-heh deh bee-HEE-lee-ah,” translates to “Lenten Stew.” As its name suggests, this dish has deep ties to the religious observance of Lent, a period of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter in the Christian calendar. During Lent, many Spanish Catholics abstain from meat, making dishes like “Potaje de Vigilia” a delicious and nourishing alternative.

Imagine a bubbling cauldron of chickpeas, cod, spinach or chard, and other vegetables simmered to perfection in a fragrant broth infused with aromatic spices and herbs. The result is a thick, hearty stew that warms the soul and provides sustenance during the lean days of Lent.

As your resident foodie local insider, I’m thrilled to guide you through the origins, cultural significance, and, of course, the tantalizing flavors of “Potaje de Vigilia.” Let’s embark on this culinary pilgrimage to discover how this dish embodies the spirit of Spanish cuisine and spirituality.

Potaje de Vigilia – A dish with deep roots

The roots of “Potaje de Vigilia” stretch back in time, intertwining food and faith. Traditionally, this stew was prepared on Fridays during Lent, when Catholics refrained from consuming meat as an act of penance and reflection. In the absence of meat, Spanish cooks turned to the bountiful harvest of vegetables, combining them with fish to create a nourishing meal.

Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao in a bowl with spoon

A Melting Pot of Flavors

One of the most remarkable aspects of “Potaje de Vigilia” is its adaptability. Just as Spanish culture is a rich tapestry woven from diverse regional influences, this dish can vary from one household to the next. Some recipes include cod, while others remain entirely vegetarian. The choice of vegetables and seasonings can vary widely, allowing each cook to infuse the dish with their own regional and personal flair.

Beyond its role as a delicious Lenten meal, “Potaje de Vigilia” symbolizes community and tradition in Spain. Families and friends often come together to prepare and share this dish during Lent, strengthening bonds and passing down cherished recipes from generation to generation.

So, don your apron, gather your ingredients, and let’s celebrate Lent the Spanish way – with a steaming bowl of “Potaje de Vigilia” that’s as rich in tradition as it is in flavor. ¡Vámonos! (Let’s go!)

ingredients needed to make Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao

How to Make Potaje De Garbanzos Con Bacalao

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

To make Potaje de vigilia you’ll want the following equipment on hand: 

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Big deep pan/pot
  • Measuring cups and spoons 
  • Potato peeler
  • Fine grater
  • Garlic press (optional)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 big potatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 big tomatoes
  • A bunch of chard/spinach
  • 4 cod fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste) 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • a couple of bay leaves.
  • 5 cups water

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

1 — Start by prepping the veggies:

prepping the veggies for Potaje de garbanzos
  • Peel the potatoes and dice into bite-size pieces.
  • Peel the onion and dice finely.
  • Peel the garlic cloves and either mince or press. 
  • Wash the chard and discard the end of the steams, chop roughly.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half and grate. 
  • Rinse the chickpeas.

2 — In the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the cod on both sides on medium-low until it gets a bit golden. Remove and set aside. 

frying the cod

3 — Add a bit more olive oil if needed, and saute the onion with a bit of salt until golden and fragrant. 

sautéing the onion

4 — Add the paprika powder to the pan and cook a bit for 15 seconds in the center of the pan, making sure it doesn’t burn. 

paprika powder and sauteed onion

5 — Immediately add the grated tomato and cook for 5-7 minutes on low. 

cooking grated tomato with onion

6 — Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and mix well. 

Adding the cooked chickpeas in the mixture

7 — Add the potatoes and the cod. 

Adding the potatoes and the cod into the mixture

8 — Add the water and the bay leaves, mix gently, and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. 

cooking the Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao

9 — Add the chopped chard and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Cover with the lid and let it rest for 5 more minutes so it can finish with the residual heat while still being crunchy. 

adding the chopped chard to the dish

10 — Serve hot and enjoy! ¡Que aproveche!

top view of Potaje de Vigilia

Notes and FAQs

Still with doubts? Don’t worry, we spill all the tea about ingredients, cooking methods, storage, etc., in this section so you can reproduce this recipe like a local. 

close up shot of Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao

Cooking method: 

Sofrito: This is the flavor base of the Potaje; it’s super important to sautee the onion and cook the pureed tomato enough so the flavors of the final dish are well-developed and rich. Do not skip those steps!

Other than that, the rest is quite straightforward.

Storage: 

Potaje de vigilia can be stored for up to 4 days in sealed containers in the fridge. It could be frozen without the potato. Then, it can last up to 3 months. 

Ingredients: 

These are the notes on the specific ingredients used in our version of the Potaje recipe and also the substitutions in case you cannot find or use any of them. 

Please note that some versions of this dish only include carrot instead of carrot and butternut squash, and others also include cod. Feel free to adapt to your preference. 

  • Chickpeas: Of course, the traditional way of using raw chickpeas, but this not only lengthens considerably the cooking times but also requires you to remember to soak them in water the night before, hence using canned cooked chickpeas is my preferred way. Simply make sure to rinse the chickpeas well before adding them to the pot so the preservatives and canning flavor get removed. 
  • Onion: Traditionally, white onion is used. However, you can use the kind of your choice. 
  • Chard: Potaje can be made with either chard or spinach, so it’s up to you. In my household, we tend to make it with chard, but I love both versions. 
  • Potato: It could be done without it, but potato adds not only another healthy carb source but it also adds a creamy texture to the broth. 
  • Cod: Potaje de vigilia is traditionally made with this fish. If you want to keep it vegetarian you can omit it completely and maybe add carrots or squash instead, or even tofu. 
  • Olive oil: the only kind of oil you’ll see me using 99% of the time. It’s not only super healthy but improves massively the flavor of the dish. 
  • Herbs and spices: sweet paprika and only sweet paprika, not smoked not spicy (smoked tend to remember too much to chorizo and spicy is out of the realm of this dish) Bay leaves give a nice layer of flavor. 
best Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao recipe by the mediterranean fork

Potaje De Garbanzos Con Bacalao Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Also known as “Potaje de Vigilia," a traditional Spanish dish that holds a special place in the hearts and kitchens of many.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Spanish

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Big deep pan/pot
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Potato peeler
  • Fine grater
  • Garlic press (optional)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 potatoes big
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 tomatoes big
  • bunch chard/spinach
  • 4 cod fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • couple bay leaves
  • 5 cups water

Nutrition

Calories: 1074kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 172g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 387mg | Sodium: 1391mg | Potassium: 4656mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 903IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 232mg | Iron: 8mg
Servings: 4
Calories: 1074kcal

Instructions

  • Start by prepping the veggies:
    Peel the potatoes and dice in bite-size pieces.
    Peel the onion and dice finely.
    Peel the garlic cloves and either mince or press.
    Wash the chard and discard the end of the steams, chop roughly.
    Cut the tomatoes in half and grate.
    Rinse the chickpeas.
  • In the pan add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the cod on both sides on medium-low until it gets a bit golden. Remove and set aside.
  • Add a bit more olive oil if needed and saute the onion with a bit of salt until golden and fragrant.
  • Add the paprika powder to the pan and cook a bit for 15 seconds in the center of the pan making sure it doesn't burn.
  • Immediately add the grated tomato and cook for 5-7 minutes on low.
  • Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and mix well.
  • Add the potatoes and the cod.
  • Add the water and the bay leaves, mix gently, and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
  • Add the chopped chard and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Cover with the lid and let it rest for 5 more minutes so it can finish with the residual heat while still being crunchy.
  • Serve hot and enjoy! ¡Que aproveche!
KEYWORD: Potaje de garbanzos con bacalao
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Born and raised in the Southeast of Spain, Alba is a photographer and a foodie. Always hungry for new flavors and recipes but with a big passion for traditional recipes that speak about roots and family. You can always find her talking about food, photographing it, or cooking! Obviously, she is team “Tortilla de patatas con cebolla”. Her favorite dishes are "Arroz de Conejo" and "Gazpacho".