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
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees
- 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.
- 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.
- Place both dishes in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.)
- 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)
- Test to make sure the squashes are just soft enough to eat; if done, remove both the tomatoes and the squashes from the oven.
- Take out all but one or two of the rosemary sprigs, and then add everything into the soup pot.
- Add the paprika and the chili to the soup and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the soup for another 5 or so minutes at a low boil, until the flavors come together. Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving.