Chorizo and Potato Soup

I came across this simple Spanish dish, Patatas Riojanas, the week that Jamie Oliver blew up on social media for committing crimes again Spanish cooking by adding chorizo to a paella. I was mooching about on the internet having a laugh at all the outrage when I discovered that Jamie Oliver’s own Food Tube channel has a video of an authentic Valencian paella, the same chef, Omar Allibhoy also has a video for this simple Riojan dish of chorizo and potatoes and I felt like it would be appropriate to cook a Spanish dish that is supposed to have chorizo in it.

While cooking the dish, I showed the video to my Spanish housemate and she already spotted a few deviations from what she considered the true Riojan dish. As the finish is supposed to more a soup than a stew she said the onion and pepper should diced rather than sliced and she felt the dried chilli was an unnecessary addition to the soup.

img_9422My housemate then watched Omar’s paella recipe and much shouting and cursing in Spanish followed interspersed with words like ‘nouvelle cuisine’ and ‘Ferran Adria’ and Madrid said with some amount of hostility. This served to highlight to me the pitfalls of chasing authenticity in a country with a highly regionalised food culture.

The Omar recipe was already in full swing before I got the input from my housemate and the finished result was delicious, but I agreed that the chilli felt unnecessary and yes it did seem neither a soup or a stew – so I gave it another go a few weeks later, sans chilli and going with the fine dice of base vegetables so they dissolve into the finished soup to create a warming hearty soup that is just the ticket as the nights draw in and the weather turns decidedly wintery.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions diced.
  • 2 red peppers diced.
  • 5 cloves garlic finely sliced.
  • 1 chorizo sausage, skinned and chopped into big chunks.
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika.
  • Few bay leaves.
  • Pinch of thyme.
  • 2 tomatoes, grated.
  • 3 waxy potatoes, chunked.
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used sherry, but use what you have).
  • 2l water.

Method

img_9420Sweat the onions and red peppers in olive oil until softened and taking on a little colour. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the chorizo and cook for a few more minutes. Add the bay leaves and the thyme and the smoked paprika. Take care to not let the paprika catch and burn. Add the grated tomato, the water and the potatoes. In Spain they have a particular way of snapping the potatoes into chunks so as to ensure extra surface area is exposed, and that speeds the thickening effect as the potatoes break down. Cook the soup on a gentle simmer for 40-50 minutes. Stirring regularly also helps the thickening as the potatoes get bashed about releasing more starch into the soup. Serve generously with thick slices of crusty bread, nothing else is needed.

It’s simplicity that really draws me to this recipe, it’s a handful of ingredients, and avoids the usual panoply of things that I think I have a tendency to throw into my soups and stews. I’ve been taking a conscious decision to avoid those store cupboard staples recently, not because I don’t value them, but I often question whether they’re needed and if a recipe gets more off-putting as the ingredient list grows.

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