Operated by the fourth and fifth generations of its founders, the Columbia Restaurant still serves many of the original family recipes that nourished Cuban cigar workers in Tampa’s Ybor City in the early 1900s.
One of its most famous dishes, Spanish Bean Soup, was invented by the restaurant’s founder Casimiro Hernandez Senior who combined the courses of cocido madrileno – broth, meat, garbanzo beans and potatoes – to make a delectable appetizer that’s now served at the all seven Columbia Restaurants around Florida. You won’t find it on menus in Spain, but with this recipe, you can add it to yours.
½ pound garbanzo beans (chickpeas), dried
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 ham bone
1 beef bone
¼ pound salt pork, cut in thin strips
1 onion, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of saffron
1 chorizo (Spanish sausage), sliced in thin rounds
Wash garbanzos. Soak overnight with 1 tablespoon salt in enough water to cover beans. Drain the
salted water from the beans. Place beans in 4-quart soup kettle; add 2 quarts 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 sauté 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.