Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The warmest part of the winter

chorizo potato soup
As I write this, it's about 11 degrees here in Toronto and raining. The kind of weather that makes you think about spring cleaning and digging your shorts out of storage more than stringing up Christmas lights. Call me crazy, but I'm not a fan. I like my seasons seasonal, you know? If you're in a place where it's actually looking like proper winter, you might find these recipes handy.

The Swedish Chef and I had a chat recently where we agreed that soup is not, in itself, a meal. Unless you're sick, it's pretty hard to get excited about soup for dinner. This, though, might be an exception to that otherwise ironclad rule. Smoky, spicy, this soup has your meat and potatoes and greens in one handy bowl. What else do you need?

Potato Soup with Kale and Chorizo (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
250 grams Spanish (dried cured) chorizo, sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
A large bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces (about 4 cups lightly packed)

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo and cook until crispy. Set aside and let drain on paper towels.

Add onion to pot and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook about a minute. Stir in paprika and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add potatoes, chorizo and broth. Increase heat and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes)

Add kale; stir until wilted, about 5 minutes. Serve.


Usually when I think of what I want to cook, I start with a main ingredient ("let's have chicken!") and go from there. This dish came to me fully-formed. one day I just knew I wanted something with some heft and depth. A ragu of sausage and tomatoes, weighted with the richness of red wine and rosemary. I couldn't find any recipes that fit the bill, so I went ahead and made one. And, if I may say so myself, I pretty much nailed it.

Sausage and tromato ragu with red wine and rosemary
Serves 4
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup diced shallots
1 glove garlic, minced
1-2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 28 ounce tin whole tomatoes (I like San Marazano)
salt and pepper

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet and add sausages, breaking them up as you go and cooking until golden brown. remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add shallots to the pot and sweat until translucent and starting to soften. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Stir in tomato paste and cook for about a minute or until the paste turns a deep brick red colour. Add rosemary, bay leaves and then the wine. Bring to a simmer and cook until wine is reduced by half.

Add tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Stir in reserved sausage and a touch of salt and let the whole thing simmer for at least an hour until liquid is reduced and sauce is thickened.

Season with additional salt and plenty of black pepper. Serve over pasta with a sprinkling of fresh grated Parmesan.

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