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.
- A good-sized knob of butter
- A medium-sized onion
- Three medium-sized carrots
- Three sticks of celery
- Several pints of chicken stock
- A tin of tomatoes
- Tomato puree
- A couple of fresh chilis, chili powder, or flakes
- A dozen or so new potatoes
- A quarter of a white cabbage
- A tin of butter beans or similar
- Three or four inches of chorizo sausage
- Melt the butter in a large pan.
- Finely chop the onion, add it to the melted butter, and let it
start to fry gently.
- Finely chop one of the carrots -- I usually cheat by grating it --
add it to the onion, and let it start to fry gently.
- Finely chop one of the sticks of celery, add it to the onion and
carrot, and let it start to fry gently.
- Add just eough stock to prevent sticking, and let these first
three ingedients mulch down into rich, semi-liquid base.
- Add the juice from the tin of tomatoes, then finely chop the
tomatoes themselves and add them.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Slice the potatoes and add them to the pot.
- Slice the remaining carrots and add them to the pot.
- Slice the remaining celery and add it to the pot.
- Finely slice the cabbage and add it to the pot.
- Give the soup ten minutes or so for the vegetables to cook
- Add the tin of butter beans.
- 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.
- 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?
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.