Soup of Kings

28th January 2011

This is, without question, my favourite soup. It's rich and warming enough to be great winter soup, but at the same time light and subtle enough to be perfect in summer.

You need a lot of ingredients, but most of them are pretty mundane, the kind of thing you probably have lying around the kitchen anyway. You can manage without some of the ingedients -- it's not a disaster if you don't have the cabbage, for example -- but you must have chorizo.



  1. Melt the butter in a large pan.
  2. Finely chop the onion, add it to the melted butter, and let it start to fry gently.
  3. Finely chop one of the carrots -- I usually cheat by grating it -- add it to the onion, and let it start to fry gently.
  4. Finely chop one of the sticks of celery, add it to the onion and carrot, and let it start to fry gently.
  5. Add just eough stock to prevent sticking, and let these first three ingedients mulch down into rich, semi-liquid base.
  6. Add the juice from the tin of tomatoes, then finely chop the tomatoes themselves and add them.
  7. At this point, you may want to beef up the tomatoeyness (or perhaps I should say, tomato up the tomatoeyness) by stirring in a blob of tomato puree. You have to do this by feel: I suggest you not do it at all the first time you make the soup, then judge how much to use the second time based on how that first one tasted to you. For what it's worth, I find it best to add maybe two tablespoonfuls.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and a little chili. Easy on the chili: you don't want to make this a spicy dish, you're just adding a touch to give it a frisson, if that's the word I want.
  9. Now you're ready to add all the rest of the stock: your thick, semi-solid base now becomes much more voluminous and liquid. Keep it simmering away reasonably vigorously as you successively add the remaining ingredients.
  10. Slice the potatoes and add them to the pot.
  11. Slice the remaining carrots and add them to the pot.
  12. Slice the remaining celery and add it to the pot.
  13. Finely slice the cabbage and add it to the pot.
  14. Give the soup ten minutes or so for the vegetables to cook through.
  15. Add the tin of butter beans.
  16. And now ... the moment of magic. You know how with some recipes it's a single unexpected ingredient that's responsible for a complete transformation? Well. Trust me: slice the chorizo into 20 or 30 thin slices, and add them to the soup. Stir them in.
  17. Let the soup simmer for five minutes, then it's ready to eat. Need I even say to eat it with well-buttered crusty bread? Thought not.

Here's the thing: if you don't like chorizo, you can even pick it out of the soup after it's finished cooking. Think of it as bay-leaves made of meat. But you can not just leave it out, or all you get is a pleasantly hearty vegetable soup. The chorizo effects changes on every other ingredient, making them taste more fully themselves. The result is the most satisfying soup I've ever tasted, with a real complexity to its flavour.

Feedback to <> is welcome!