Hearty Spanish-Style Lentil and Chorizo Soup

What is it with the Spanish food lately?  Must be the weather.

Because it’s officially cold outside.  Here in Chicago we’ve had some freakishly mild weather and a disconcerting lack of snow.  Until this past week when we got those character-building below-zero wind chills we know and love and were able to break out the dilapidated lawn chairs to claim our shoveled-out parking spaces.  Cause that’s how we roll.

A soup like this must have been created with chilled bones, numb fingers and runny noses in mind.  If you’ve sent someone out to shovel the sidewalk, walk the dog, or take the kids sledding they will not mind at all if they can return to the smell of this incredible soup bubbling away on the stove.  They might even forget that they spent the last half hour convinced you were trying to kill them.

It’s got lentils, it’s got chorizo (one of my all-time favorite cured meats), it’s got carrots and onions and smoked paprika and garlic.  It makes enough to feed an entire hockey team and it improves with age.  It might be the perfect food.  There’s also a variation with kale just in case you’re one of those nut cases who needs to have something green in their food in order to live with themselves (and I am one of them).  You could use kielbasa or any similar type of sausage (including veggie sausage) or omit the meat entirely to make it vegetarian (and vegan).

I could not find lentils du Puy so just used the regular, store-brand kind.  They get a quick (30-minute) soak in boiling water and salt to speed up their tenderization so the soup doesn’t need to cook for hours and hours (although with all the chopping, browning and simmering I would allow at least 90 minutes and preferably 2 hours from start to finish).

Hearty Spanish-Style Lentil and Chorizo Soup
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2013
Printable version
Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. (2-1/4 cups) lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper
  • large onion
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds Spanish-style chorizo sausage, pricked with fork several times
  • carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • cups water, plus extra as needed
  • tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
  • bay leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • tablespoon all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place lentils and 2 teaspoons salt in large bowl. Cover with 4 cups boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop three-quarters of onion (you should have about 1 cup) and grate remaining quarter on the large holes of a box grater (3 tablespoons).  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add chorizo and cook until browned on both sides, 6-8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to low and add chopped onion, carrots, 1 tablespoon parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft but not brown, 25-30 minutes. If vegetables begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon water to pot.

3. Add drained lentils and sherry vinegar to vegetables; increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until vinegar starts to evaporate, 3-4 minutes. Add 7 cups water, chorizo, bay leaves, and cloves; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add paprika, grated onion, garlic, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer. Remove chorizo and bay leaves (discard bay leaves) from lentils. Stir paprika mixture into lentils and continue to cook until flavors have blended and soup has thickened, 10-15 minutes. When chorizo is cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into ¼”-thick slices. Return chorizo to soup along with 1 tablespoons parsley and heat through, about 1 minute. Season with salt, pepper, and up to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar to taste.  Serve, sprinkling with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley (if you like, you can drizzle a little olive oil over each serving.)  Soup can be made up to 3 days in advance.

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