Thursday, December 17, 2015

Soup's On: Perfect Pot of Winter Warmth

For those of us who don't always have the funds to go out for dinner when we don't feel like cooking—or don't have the time to whip up a culinary feast for our hungry families—I highly suggest jumping off the plate and into the pot. In other words, think soup.

It's almost the perfect winter warmer. Its steaming heat warms the body and fills the belly, especially when you add beans, pasta, potatoes, rice or root vegetables. It's easy, usually taking no more than 30 minutes or so to go from start to finish. It satisfies a crowd, needing only a good loaf of bread and maybe some cheese or a green salad to make a meal. Seriously, it's hard to do better when you're feeding a family or, indeed, a table full of guests.

And I've been making a lot of soup lately, from a Thai-inflected curried squash soup to a Tuscan white bean soup to a split pea soup with bacon to a corn chowder. Though at my house we often call it "stewp" because it invariably turns out to be less brothy and more hearty.

The soup in the photo above was a complete improvisation. I was pressed for time to make dinner on a recent weeknight and was rummaging in the freezer for ingredients I might be able to thaw quickly. That's when I ran across a package of frozen chorizo sausage I'd bought from Don Felipe at the Portland Mercado. Hm. A start.

A bit of digging in the vegetable bin brought up some carrots and a couple of garnet yams, and I found a container of leftover black beans I'd made earlier in the week (though you could always use canned). Perfect.

And, like I said earlier, in just over a half hour we were sitting down to what may be my new favorite soup.

Chorizo, Black Bean and Yam Soup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. fresh chorizo sausage*
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3-4 c. cooked or canned black beans
2 large carrots, chopped in 1/4" dice
2 medium garnet yams, chopped in 1/2" dice
4-6 c. water, depending on how brothy you like your soup

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. When it shimmers, add the chorizo and brown, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. Add onion and garlic and sauté till tender. Add black beans, carrots, yams and water and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until carrots and yams are tender.

* I highly recommend Don Felipe's Tolucan-style red chorizo sausage, or you can make your own version with this simple recipe.

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