Last summer a friend gave me her recipe for red chimichurri sauce (garlicky, smoky with a hit of vinegar) that knocked my socks off. It was so good I was eating it with a spoon instead of drizzling it over steak or eggs or something more respectable. It got me thinking, if I make a soup with those flavors, I could legitimately eat it with a spoon. Hmmm...is there any other food that has that garlicky, smoky, vinegary flavour.... why yes, Spanish chorizo. The italics are to differentiate it from Mexican chorizo which is delicious but very different (the butcher at my grocery told me they weren't when I had trouble finding it, but trust me dear man, they are).
The only Spanish chorizo I could find was cured (dried - another guy at another meat counter told me Spanish chorizo is by definition cured but me thinks I should do a bit more legwork to confirm that) so it is a bit chewy...but the flavor. The flavor! This stuff has TONS of flavor. It punches up just about anything including this rustic tomato soup to which I added fresh croutons and creamy manchego cheese to balance the spice and acidity.
Spanish Chorizo Tomato Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
7.9 ounces Spanish chorizo
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1½ cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 28 ounce cans mini-diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Pimenton/Spanish smoked paprika (NOT sweet Hungarian - see photo)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Sherry vinegar (optional)
Make a lengthwise slit in the chorizo and peel off the papery skin. Chop into small dice. Put in a cold soup pot and turn heat to medium. Saute for about 10 minutes or until fat is rendered from sausage. Remove with slotted spoon to a plate. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons (your choice - this is flavorful stuff but it is fat...) of oil and add onions and garlic. Turn heat down to low, cover pan and let sweat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until onions are soft. Add paprika and let saute another minute or two. Add tomatoes and their juices, water and salt and bring to a boil. At this point you can puree a few cups in the blender if you like a creamier consistency. If not, add the sausage back into the pot and let simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to an hour and a half. Serve with fresh croutons*, grated cheese and a sprinkle of sherry vinegar, if more acidity is desired.
* Slice crust off half a baguette (or similar white bread) and cut into generous 1 inch cubes. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake on a sheet pan for 10 minutes in a 350º oven.