There’s nothing like a warming bowl of soup to pick you up in winter.
There’s a chill in the air, the scarves are out and the idea of salad or Gazpacho for lunch is a long-distant memory. For most of us, soup represents nourishment, healing and comfort from the day’s when our mothers would bring us a steaming hot bowl when we were feeling poorly or trying to skive off school. The great French Chef Auguste Escoffier said, “Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite”, while Beethoven claimed” Only the pure of heart can make good soup”. One thing’s for sure, freshly made soups rarely get the attention they deserve and are often inexplicably overlooked by most chefs these day’s. That’s a real shame as soup can be extremely versatile and tasty, as well an endless source of nutrition.
Spain’s love for comida de cuchara (dishes to be eaten with a spoon) is fierce, with any number of intensely flavourful, regional soups and stews forming part of the backbone of this country’s cuisine. Simple one-pot dishes are known as “potaje” in Spain. This is simple, peasant food and each region throughout Spain has at least one or two specialties to offer. Dishes like “Cocido Madrileño”, a chickpea stew, which is famous in Madrid, “Fabada” a white bean stew from Asturias and “Alubias de Tolosa”, a black bean stew from the Basque country. Others have strange sounding names like “Olla Podrida” witch translates into “rotten stock-pot” and also appears in Cervantes Don Quixote. Another is called “Moros y Cristianos” (Arabs and Christians) and is made with white rice and black beans. Caldo Gallego is one of my favourites and is the famous winter warmer of Galicia. It’s a robust soup with the region’s famed winter greens: berza (green cabbage) and grelos (similar to turnip tops), combined with white beans, potatoes and some kind of pork or smoky chorizo. I also love a simple Porrusalda, a typical soup from the Basque Country. It’s traditionally eaten during Lent and is a humble leek broth with carrots and potatoes that in prosperous times may have chunks of salt cod or bonito tuna added to it.
CREMA DE PORRUSALDA
This is a deliciously, simple version of Porrusalda. Feel free to add some salt cod or chunks of fresh tuna or even salmon at the end if you want something a little more substantial and feeling prosperous!
Ingredients: serves 6
2 large leeks
500g potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 large Spanish onion (peeled and chopped)
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 glass of dry white wine
600ml vegetable stock
100ml olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook over a gentle heat, without colour, until they start to soften. Add the white wine and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and season to taste. Blend to a puree; pass through a fine sieve and serve
Galician-style Cabbage & Chorizo Soup
This is my quick & easy version of this classic, Spanish soup.
Ingredients: serves 6
350g green cabbage, quartered & finely sliced
1 large onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (peeled & crushed)
500g potatoes (peeled and chopped)
150ml olive oil
1 smoky chorizo, diced (spicy sausage)
1.5 litres chicken stock
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Sweat for 2-3 minutes over a gentle heat. Add the potatoes and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked. Remove from the heat and liquidise to a fine puree.
Fry the chorizo in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes and drain off the excess fat.
Return the potato soup to the heat and, then add the chorizo and shredded cabbage leaves. Cook gently for a further 8-10 minutes, season to taste and serve with crusty bread.