It's the time of year when I decide soup is a necessity, that it simply matches the season in the way that salad goes so well with the warmth of summer. There are many obvious flaws with this - not least the expectation of warmth in an English summer or these days lots of cold in an English winter. I tend to eat salad all year round, soup less frequently but certainly not specifically in the winter.
In the spirit of this latest random culinary decision the week before last the man was ill and asked for chicken noodle soup. I used fresh egg noodles and stock from the freezer, chicken thighs crisped with garlic and ginger before the flesh was stripped off, finished with wilted spinach and fresh coriander - perfect sicky boy comfort.
Last week I found a recipe for cauliflower soup finished with yoghurt that took my fancy which was not bad. But not good enough to make again.
This week I needed a good one and the Moro Cookbook offered Sopa de habicuelas. In English it is white beans, chorizo, garlic, parsley and that combination of pork and beans in every form seriously does it for me. Joy of joy it was better in real life than I thought it would be.
The cooked beans are blended to the consistency of double cream and that's the base. Actually soaked them overnight Saturday and cooked and blended them Sunday then left them in the fridge till I needed them Wednesday. Easy. Could freeze them at this point too, if you wanted.
But the fabulousness derives from the deep flavour and little bursts of texture that come from the fried garlic and parsley. The final triumph is the crisped chorizo and the drizzle of its rendered fat.
White Bean Soup with Garlic, Parsley and Chorizo
375g dried cannellini, planchada or other white beans, soaked overnight in cold water
Bouquet garni of celery leaves, parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay tied in string for easy retrieval
800ml bean liquor or, if not enough, made up with water
6 tbspns olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tspn hot paprika
6 tbspns finely chopped flat leaf parsley
200g chorizo, preferably cooking, preferably spicy, diced into 1 cm cubes
Drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan. Add the bouquet garni and cover with cold water by 2 cm. Bring to the boil, skim all the white foam, then simmer very gently for about an hour, but check after 40 minutes and if softening, add about a tablespoon of salt. Continue to simmer till the beans are tender.
Discard the bouquet garni and blend the beans in their liquor with an electric stick till the beans are smooth and have the consistency of double (heavy) cream. If too thick, add a little water till you have the consistency you want.
At this point the beans can be decanted to a bowl and refrigerated for a few days till you want soup.
In a large saucepan, heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil over a lowish heat. When the oil is hot add the garlic and quickly fry for maybe 30 seconds till it just begins to colour. Add 4 tablespoons of the chopped parsley, reduce the heat and stir till the garlic is golden brown and the parsley translucent dark green and the whole lot is wonderfully fragrant.
Stir in the paprika and then add the bean purée. Bring to a gentle simmer and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan on a high flame, heat the remaining olive oil and fry the chorizo until just slightly crisp.
Ladle the soup into deep bowls, add the crispy chorizo and chopped parsley. Swirl the paprika oil from the chorizo pan on top for an amazing bowl of soup.
Beautiful to look at, smells great, tastes amazing. I really liked this soup!