Arroz Caldoso con Habas y Esparragos – Rice with Broad Beans and Asparagus

Spanish rice is a little different from Italian risotto rice. Like risotto rice it is generally cooked in a large amount of flavoured stock (for example in a paella) but the grains stay separate rather than turning creamy.  However, use whatever you have, it will still be a wonderfully delicious dish.

To keep it vegetarian, use water or the stock from cooking the vegetables, otherwise chicken stock will add extra flavour.

And before the recipe, a little word about how we eat our broad beans around here. In the photo you will see about 1 ½ kilos of beans from our veggie patch. Many people here simply top and tail them and then chop them into chunks. Almost nothing is wasted, the pods are eaten too unless they are especially tough. The pods which give the biggest beans are more mature, and are less digestible.

It seems sad to me to throw so much away (although our chickens would be glad of such a sweet and tasty treat). I pod my beans and then finely chop the outer shells which I braise until tender and then add the beans to the dish at a later stage. Sometimes I simmer the beans for a few minutes and then pop them out of their skins, but this is a rare extravagance, although it does add amazing colour.

So, the choice is yours…single pod, double pod or use the shells and beans together…it´s up to you!

Ingredients – For two hungry people as a main course or four as a starter

  • 1 cup of Spanish Paella Rice (or rice of your choice)
  • About 5-6 cups of water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • The braised pods from about 750 grams of broad beans (weight before preparing)
  • The blanched beans from the pods (save the cooking water if you want to keep this vegetarian)
  • About 150g asparagus cut into 1cm pieces. Reserve the tips, blanch them, drain and set aside
  • About 6 mushrooms thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Seasoning
  • Olive oil for frying

Put a few tablespoons of oil in a deep pan or pot and add the garlic, bay leaf, bean pods (if using) and asparagus stalks and fry gently until the garlic is soft. Add the rice and coat it in oil for a minute or two then add 3 cups of the stock.

Bring to the boil and cook on a medium heat until the rice starts to absorb the liquid. Add the rest of the liquid and when the rice is almost cooked add the broad beans and mushrooms. Simmer until the mushrooms are tender, season, discard the bay leaf, cover and remove from the heat. The rice needs to rest for 3-5 minutes. If during the cooking period the rice gets too dry, just add a little more liquid. Typically Arroz Caldoso (which translates as rice with broth) is served more liquid than a paella or risotto and eaten with a spoon – but you decide how you like it.

Finally, stir in the asparagus tips and serve with some fresh lemon to squeeze over.

We ate ours with the leftover pork belly which I cut into slices and dry fried to remove the fat, to heat it through and to allow it to crisp up.


55 thoughts on “Arroz Caldoso con Habas y Esparragos – Rice with Broad Beans and Asparagus

  1. I’ve no experience with broad beans, Tanya, so thank you for this little tutorial. I just might pick me up some at the market tomorrow. Your Spanish rice looks real good and I’m sure it would be every bit as enjoyable as risotto. And then, out of the blue, the pork belly conspiracy rears its ugly head again. I have to admit, though, that plate looks absolutely delicious! It would be worth roasting a pork belly just so that there’d be leftovers to enjoy with your Spanish rice. 🙂

    1. Hi John – I guess everyone eats them a little differently and if they´re bigger/older/a little less fresh (sounds like I am describing myself!) then the outer pods may be less appetizing. Do hope you manage to find some and give them a go – I love the raw beans on their own with jamon or in a salad. Oh dear, the Pork Belly Conspiracy Gang strikes again 😉

  2. This looks wonderful, and just the thing at the moment when we have broad beans in the garden and asparagus in the market…I’ll definitely be making this over the next day or two with some of the Catalan rice I still have left from our last trip over the border. And being a non-vegetarian, the pork looks great with it too! I made habas con jamon yesterday too, like yours the other day – delicious!

  3. What a pretty springtime dish. I would be happy with just the rice dish but adding your beautiful pork really makes a wonderful meal.

    1. It´s good on its own (and filling too) so great for vegetarians as a main course. Mind you, we had those leftover pieces of pork just begging to be eaten…. 😉

    1. Yes, I think that´s what they are. So easy to grow too, and they don´t mind a little cold. Still not too late to plant them and they don´t grow high…!

  4. Lovely fresh beans, perfect straight from the pod but as you say a shame to waist type pod and braising is a good idea givin gtwo textures. Looks great.

  5. A bowl of Spring – broadies and asparagus. I love the flavours and you know I’ll fess up I’ve never really eaten broad beans cooked in the pods, I need to experiment!

    1. Neither had I Claire – no shame in admitting it! I think they taste great, but make sure they are tender as 8to me at least) they are not so good when still a little crunchy (the shells, that is). The beans are lovely raw though!

  6. Because of the colonial ties of the Philippines (where I am from) with Spain, I grew up with arroz caldo which is still a comfort food. I love to try your version of the arroz caldozo especially with the pork belly which is really yummy! 😉

    1. It would still be lovely – risotto tends to absorb more liquid than Spanish rice which makes it swell, so it you wanted it “brothy” just add more stock!

    1. Ooh – I don´t know, all I know that this type of rice is called (in the supermarket) redondo or round and it´s what´s most widely used. I think Bomba and Calasparra too but don´t know where they´re from. Now will have to find out!

  7. Mmmmmm, leftover pork belly! 😀 The rice dish sounds really good – hearty and delicious… I don’t think I had spanish style rice before to be honest. On the subject of broad bean shells – I usually use the shells in stock… I didn’t try eating them before at all… curious what they’re like now!

    1. I´m glad you didn´t just throw them away. Mind you, in the UK, when I was buying the beans they could not have been as super fresh as the ones I have now and were much more mature, so the shells probabaly weren´t that great to eat!

  8. Are broad beans the same as fava beans? There are so many beans… and I have yet to meet one (fresh or dried) that I didn’t like! Mmmm…. and more pork belly please!

    1. Yes, I think they are – and in the UK (at least I think so) you can also buy tinned broad beans and dried broad beans. Like you, I too have yet to meet a bean that I don´t like 😉

  9. A gorgeous looking and sounding dish, Tanya, and I’m so happy to have a suggestion on what to do with the outer part of a broad bean. I’ve made the mistake of trying to cook the beans that were a bit too large all at the same time, and ended up with an inedible mess. This is a terrific idea, and as you said, less wasteful. And I do love the mixed color and texture. Great post!

  10. Somehow I seem to have missed this one… and I love broad beans 😉

    How weird, I can’t find an email notification either… hurumph! Google decided it was spam! Good job I found it and corrected the matter!

    1. I think it´s been a very weird few days with WordPress for all of us! And don´t worry, I´m sure there will be more broad bean posts from me 😉

  11. I have always thought that i hated broad beans, but now that i think about it, this may be a hang over from my child hood, because Mum did not like them. SO it is time for me to try them again, this dish would be a perfect place to start! lovely pics too, that green does pop! c

    1. I think lots of us have horrible memories of tough old broad beans as children…maybe because “back then” the `pods were probably only sold larger (for the bigger beans) and therefore tougher. Hope you do give them a try…and they´re also amazingly easy to grow and give you a good crop over several months.

  12. What a pretty and colorful paella rice dish! I think your idea of chopping up the shells and incorporating them into the recipe makes so much more sense. I’m betting it would add tons of flavor and color to this dish too:) Gorgeous spring colors:) xo Smidge

  13. Qué buena pinta, y qué suerte que tengo todos los ingredientes en casa. Mañana lo pruebo. Gracias por la receta. Saludos

  14. Ooooh, I love rice meals. Rice is such a comfort food for me, and this recipe seems fairly easy to make! Can’t wait to see what it tastes like!

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