One of the oldest recipe of The Spanish Cuisine; Chickpeas with Cod and Spinach, “Potage de Vigília”

By Chef H. Delgado

February 16, 2021

This week I bring you an old dish representative of the Spanish Lent. Perhaps because of its excellent nutritional value, its fascinating flavour, or its historical value, this dish has become Spanish cuisine classics.

But before we start cooking, here are some information to understand better this humble dish.

Preparing for Easter.

Lent is the time in the Christian calendar destined for the spiritual preparation before Easter. It is about 40 days of purification and internal illumination. 

In the Catholic rite, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends just before the Lord's Supper's Mass on Holy Thursday afternoon. The forty-day duration comes from various biblical references: The ordeal Jesus went through when he stayed for 40 days in the Judaean desert before his public mission, the 40 days of the universal flood, the 40 years of the march of the Israelite people through the desert, and the 40 years that the slavery of the Hebrews lasted in Egypt.

Jesus in the Desert (Ivan Kramskoi)

Throughout Lent's season, Christians are called to strengthen their faith through various acts of penance and reflection. The practice of Lent dates back to the fourth century. It was a sad and boring time, marked by fasting and abstinence under the Catholic Church's mandate.

Until 1966 the "Bula de Carne", could be issued in the parishes. Possession of this  served to circumvent the prohibition of eating meat and reduce the time of fasting. Although you would own the "Bula de Carne", Fridays were compulsory abstinence, and food consumption was reduced to fruits, vegetables, fish, and legumes.

Bula de Carne

Between the XVI and XVII centuries, the first Spanish Recipe books appeared. On them you can see how a kitchen used to work, the scarcity of the time, and the church's restrictions dictated in the Lenten diet.
With that situation, chefs had to figure out how to make a rich food with the ingredients they had and were allowed to use.

Chickpeas with Cod and Spinach. Potaje de Vigilia.


  1. Chickpeas 200 g
  2. Salted Cod flaked 150 g
  3. Spinach 150 g
  4. Leek 1
  5. Carrot 2
  6. Bay leaf
  7. Salt
  8. Water
  9. Eggs 4 u.

For the "Majado"

  1. Walnuts or Almonds 20 g
  2. Three cloves of garlic
  3. Cumin 1 tsp
  4. Olive oil 1 tablespoon
  5. Saffron 10 filaments
  6. Parsley
  7. Bread  2 or 3 slices 50 g

For the "Sofrito"

  1. Leek
  2. Tomato
  3. Oiva oil
  4. Paprika "Pimentón" 1 tbsp
  5. Salt


For the Chickpeas

  1. Pour 2 liters of water in a pot, along with a leek, two carrots and a bay leaf.
  2. Put it over high heat. When the water is hot, add the chickpeas previously soaked for approximately 9 hours (depending on size).
  1. When it comes to a boil, skim the impurities with a spoon and let the chickpeas boil for about 2 hours in total.
  2. While the chickpea is cooking, you can cook the eggs for 12 minutes, and start with the sauce.


  1. Cut the leek into brunoise and put it in a pan with a little olive oil.
  2. Cook the leek over medium heat until it is brown.
  3. Add the paprika "pimenton", and mix well with the leek.
  1. Cook it for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato in brunoise.
  1. Stir it well; the tomato will immediately release water and thus prevent the paprika from burning. You can also add few water from the pot.
  1. Cook everything together for another 12 minutes, and then pour them into the pot of chickpeas.
  1. After 1 hour and a half cooking, add the chopped potato and 10 minutes later the spinach.
  2. Let it cook 15 minutes more.

For the "Majado".

  1. In a frying pan with very little oil, fry the bread on both sides. Place in a mixing glass or mortar.
  2. In the same oil, toast the walnuts and garlic. Peel the roasted garlic and put them together with the fried bread and walnuts in the mixing glass.
  1. Remove the cooked leek and carrot from the chickpea pot and put them together with a little cooking water and about 6 chickpeas in the mixing glass.
  2. Add the cumin, saffron and parsley and blend everything.
  1. Add the mash "Majado" to the pot of chickpeas.
  1. The stew already has the body, colour and an excellent flavour.
  2. When the stew is ready, after two hours cooking approx. , add the flaked and desalted cod in the water previously.
  1. Mix well, cover the pot with a lid, and turn off the heat.
  2. After five minutes serve the stew in a bowl or a soup plate, with boiled egg and sprinkled parsley.

I hope you like this recipe so influential and warm up your soul.

Have a Tasty Day!

I'm Chef H. Delgado

Love for the product, take care of the technique, elegant execution, and above all, nature and environment respect, are my values ​​as a professional.
It is a pleasure for me to invite you to discover the best dishes and ingredients of Spanish cuisine.

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