A bright but blustery Sunday morning has turned into a rather dark, threatening afternoon. Icy plops of rain are falling and the bare birch trees across the road are swaying in an increasingly strong wind. I don’t mind though. Marco’s been walked and I’ve already been for a run. There’s nothing I need do other than read my book (The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler), drink peppermint tea and make soup for the week ahead. Nice.
Today’s soup will be a wintery minestrone (this one). More often than not, however, I’ve been making the below soup. It’s David’s current favourite. He likes his soups hearty and, in this weather, so do I.
Chorizo, Spinach and Chickpea Soup
150g chorizo, skinned and chopped into small cubes
2 celery sticks, chopped finely
2 onions, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tspn smoked paprika
½ tspn cayenne pepper (optional – really not necessary if your paprika is spicy)
½ cup brown rice
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500g frozen, chopped spinach (Whole leaf is fine too but it will need to be defrosted then chopped finely first. Fresh spinach should be chopped finely first too.)
1.5 litres of stock (ham for preference but vegetable or chicken is fine too)
- Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan. Throw in the chorizo and cook over a medium heat until the chorizo releases its fat. Add the onion and celery and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and smoked paprika. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the chickpeas and brown rice. Stir well.
- Finally, add the tomatoes, spinach and stock. Simmer gently for an hour then taste for seasoning. It’s unlikely to need salt but a grinding of pepper would be good.
The days are starting to stretch and we have snowdrops under our birch tree. I bought a bunch of daffodils at the supermarket last weekend and there’s a cherry tree down our road that has a few blossoms on it. I’m not saying Spring is here or even that it’s on its way, but I am slowly starting to remember what spring is like and that’s really rather nice indeed.
All this said, it was -5 oC this morning and my fingers almost dropped off scraping frost off the car. Soup season is most definitely still here. This one’s a cracker. 🙂
Smokey Tomato & Rice Soup
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
25g red lentils
1 tspn smoked paprika (you may need to increase this if your smoked paprika isn’t really smokey)
1 tspn paprika
1 tpsn cumin
½ tspn cayenne pepper or chilli powder (if your smoked paprika is hot you won’t need this – taste the spices)
500g passata (sieved tomatoes – you could use normal tinned tomatoes but the consistency will be less velvety)
1.5 ltr chicken or vegetable stock (made from a cube is fine)
150g frozen sweetcorn
- Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and celery and fry gently until softened (about 10 mins). Add the garlic and spices to the pan and stir well.
- Cook for another minute before adding the rice, lentils, passata and stock. Simmer gently for 20 mins. Add the sweetcorn and cook for a futher 10 mins until the rice and lentils are soft.
- Season and serve.
So, I’m calling this “broth” partly because I love the sound of the word, and partly because that’s what this soup (or variations of it) is called where I grew up in Aberdeenshire. My family (originally from the Glasgow area) call this “homemade soup”. One could make, lets say, carrot and coriander soup from scratch at home and that would be homemade soup but it wouldn’t be “homemade soup”. You know?
Anyway, this is the soup I panicked about not being able to replicate after my mum died and I wanted to get the recipe down here fairly swiftly. What I should say, though, is that this soup has been made for generations in our family and it’s generally agreed (with the exception of when Nana got confused between the nasturtium seeds and the split peas) that the previous generations’ “homemade soup” is always better than the following generations’ “homemade soup”.
Inferior to previous soups, perhaps, but still damn good. 🙂
Broth (makes BIG pot – freezes well)
2.5l really well flavoured chicken stock
2 cups broth mix (Available in Scottish supermarkets. Not sure about elsewhere in the UK… It’s a mixture of barley, split green and yellow peas, red lentils and marrowfat peas. Barley is the most important ingredient so 1.5 cups of barley would be fine as a substitute for broth mix. )
2 large potatoes, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 cup turnip, chopped into 1 cm pieces
1 cup carrots, chopped into 0.5cm pieces
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup chopped leek
Salt and pepper
- Add the stock, potatoes, chopped carrots, turnips and broth mix to a large pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours until barley is soft.
- Add the grated carrot, leek and chicken. Season to taste. Simmer for another 30 mins.
- Done. 🙂