Thursday, 15 November 2007

Chorizo and Squash Soup

This week, I once again found myself with a couple of unused squashes on hand (and phwoar, how often does that happen to the best of us?). I do very much like my squashes and my veggies in general, but I suppose when I buy my groceries I sometimes get over zealous and get more than we can eat; the spirit is willing but we're just unable to live up to my ideals of vegetable eating. I also found myself a bit stumped as to what to make with these two butternut and acorn squashes. I've done a squash bake, squash risotto, and sweet squash desserts all in the past few weeks, and I was somewhat flummoxed as to what to do now.

And then it came to me: chorizo. A nice sausage is often the answer to many of life's troubles (as a nice cheese can be as well) and chorizo was the answer to this problem. It's a rich sausage with some fantastic flavors to it, which I thought would complement the healthy squashes quite nicely. I'm very lucky with where I work that I have a brilliant Spanish food shop near me (Brindisa, whose tapas restaurant is the favorite I've found in London), and my choice of chorizo was vast. More than other sausages, I believe it's important to get a good quality chorizo since it's such a fatty sausage, and a poorer chorizo tends to be filled with gristle and give off even higher-than-normal amounts of fat when cooked. I opted to get a slightly sweet fresh chorizo, and a spicy cured chorizo, and to use both in the soup.

Aside from just having a craving for it, chorizo also made sense because of the herb I knew I'd be using with this soup. For the past 3 months our house has been under construction, and our entire garden has been an inaccessible write-off. I would worry about the herb plants occasionally, but knew there wasn't much point in worrying since there was absolutely nothing I could do. The construction will be finished next week (so they tell me - please be true, pleasebetrue) and slowly we're beginning to see the garden again. With it, I could tell that everything had died except for our impossible-to-kill lemon geranium and our doesn't-quite-thrive-but-doesn't-quite-die rosemary. As much as I love the wonderfully citrusy and almost astringent taste and smell of the geranium, it would be the evergreen-like rosemary that would be the natural compliment to my chorizo and squash in this soup.

I roasted the vegetables together (with garlic and rosemary) to bring out a bit more of their flavor before throwing them in the pot with the already-cooked chorizo. I also found some sweet paprika at the back of our cupboard, and though I have no idea how it got there it found its way into the pot to some very pleasing results. I loved how this all came together, with the squashes being softened but not mushy, and absorbing the rosemary, chorizo, and paprika flavors in equal measure. It was a great way to send off these squashes that were moping around my vegetable rack, and to welcome the rosemary back from the confines of my off-limits garden.

And for rosemary's proud return to my table (as well as, may I say, my inspired use of sweet paprika and two types of squash), I'm submitting this to Vanessa at What Geeks Eat for a bit of weekend herb blogging fun.

Chorizo and Squash Soup
Serves 4 as a main course

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch squares (although any squash will do)
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch squares (again, any squash will do)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks of rosemary
  • 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, well chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 400-500 g fresh chorizo (I used regular/sweet chorizo)
  • 80-100 g cured chorizo (I used spicy, to add a bit of variety)
  • 1 liter water, boiled
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp chili (more or less depending on what level of spiciness you like things)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees
  2. Throw the chopped squashes into an oven-proof dish, along with all but 1 sprig of the rosemary and 1/3 of the chopped garlic. Pour a bit of olive oil in and stir until it's all coated with a bit of oil and the garlic is mixed.
  3. Empty the tin of tomatoes into another, smaller, oven-proof dish. Stir in the other sprig of rosemary, another 1/3 of the garlic, and the sherry vinegar.
  4. Place both dishes in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, saute the onions, celery, carrots, and remaining garlic with a bit of olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat until they all begin to soften.
  6. Slice both types of chorizo; the fresh chorizo should be in hearty but still bite-sized chunks, the cured should be thinner (but not wafer-thin).
  7. Add in both chorizos and cook until the chorizo is cooked through, stirring often. (If you need to de-glaze your pot a bit, use another glug of the sherry vinegar.)
  8. This step should (hopefully) be happening just as your vegetables are coming out of the oven: pour the water into the pot with the sausages, and bring to a low boil. Skim off any scum or excess fat (you'll get quite a bit from the chorizo but you might want to leave some since it is tasty)
  9. Test to make sure the squashes are just soft enough to eat; if done, remove both the tomatoes and the squashes from the oven.
  10. Take out all but one or two of the rosemary sprigs, and then add everything into the soup pot.
  11. Add the paprika and the chili to the soup and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Cook the soup for another 5 or so minutes at a low boil, until the flavors come together. Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving.


Kate / Kajal said...

This sounds and looks so good, but i 'll never know how it'll taste.I dont eat pork ??? is there really any substitute for chorizo?

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That soup looks and sounds really delicious! A tasty dish which is very comforting and pleasing!



Annemarie said...

Hi Kate - I thought about this for awhile. I'd lean toward a merquez sausage since that's also nicely fatty and strong in flavor. I might then keep the rosemary but swap the paprika for something more middle eastern, like ras el hanout or chermoula.

Hi Rosa - it was very comforting indeed. Perfect for cold weather.

Kalyn said...

This sounds really wonderful. I love squash, but I do know what you mean about being overly-optimistic when buying it. I think the combination of chorizo, squash, and rosemary would be perfect.

Laurie Constantino said...

Sausage is indeed the answer to many of life's problems -- and it certainly fixed your over abundance of squash -- what a tasty recipe, thanks!

Niamheen said...

Lovely pic! Looks great.

Yes, I have the same problem with squash, although it's a problem I create willingly, I love squash in all their shapes in sizes and they go so well with chorizo.

Annemarie said...

Hi Kalyn - Yes, I was really surprised by how happy the squash was to combine with the chorizo flavors, but it did work really well.

Hi Laurie - If you're tempted, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go.

Hi Niamheen - Yes, I think I'll be going down the squash/chorizo path more often now that I've found out what a nice journey it is!

Kevin said...

This sounds really good!