March 22nd, 2013
I want to be writing about something else like ramps or rhubarb, artichokes or peas. I’m ready for spring. But, alas, small, dirty patches of snow still dot my Brooklyn street. And it’s cold. And the hungry boy is home sick. These may be his last days, but cranky old man winter is still here and instead of composing spring salads, I find myself bubbling soup. Chorizo and Chickpea Soup, to be exact. Hey, at least I get to throw in some swiss chard.
It’s possible that the weather will have warmed a bit by the time this post goes up, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from committing to this tasty soup. Though I was reluctant to make it, I developed the recipe with warmth soon to come in mind. It’s a transitional soup: warming enough to get us through these last days of cold, but light enough to carry us through the slow start of spring. And it’s a killer spring substitute for chili: thanks to smoky chorizo and fire roasted tomatoes, this soup has all the big flavor of a great chili with a much lighter feel fit for the warmer days ahead.
My favorite thing about this soup is that it’s (roll the tape) easy to make. You do have to allow 30 minutes of simmer time, but that part’s totally unattended. The actual cooking here couldn’t be more low maintenance—hardly any prep work and nothing fussy. Quick messy chopping, a little sautéing, some simmering, and you’re ready to go. The bonus is that this soup’s even better if you make it ahead of time.
I mentioned above that I used fire roasted tomatoes for this recipe. To be specific, I use Muir Glen because, well, here’s the thing: it’s hard to find great tasting canned tomatoes that are also safely packaged in BPA-free cans, and Muir Glen products are among the few that fit the bill. Throw in the fact that their tomatoes are 100% field grown on organic farms and that they recently launched a new line of fire roasted tomato products and you get why I’m a dedicated fan. If you can’t find Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, my suggestion is to get their plain diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes of another safely packaged brand.
One more note: I served this soup over plain cooked farro (also made ahead) to ensure a filling one-bowl meal. I suggest that you do the same. Trust me on this one.
Chorizo and Chickpea Soup with Swiss Chard
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more as necessary
1/3 cup cubed dry chorizo**
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves or garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, diced
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of fresh swiss chard, washed and chopped
4 cups chicken broth (ideally homemade)
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (see note above; you can substitute plain diced tomatoes)
1 cup water
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cooked farro, to serve (optional)
1. Coat the bottom of a heavy pan or large dutch oven set over medium heat with oil. Once hot, add chorizo and cook until brown.
2. Add celery, garlic and onion; saute until the vegetables are fragrant and soft and the onions translucent. (If your sausage doesn’t release enough fat to keep the bottom of the pot well coated, add more olive oil, teaspoon by teaspoon. You shouldn’t need more than an additional 2-3 teaspoons total.)
3. Add chickpeas and swiss chard. Cook until the greens wilt.
4. Add broth, tomatoes and water. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. (If you are serving with farro and haven’t already cooked it, this is a good time to start.)
5. Transfer roughly 3 cups of soup to a powerful blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot, stir to combine and allow the soup to simmer 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve plain or spooned over cooked farro and finished with a drizzle of olive oil.
*Note: This is a wonderful soup to share with beginner eaters. The bold flavor will excite their palate! Set aside some of the pureed soup for eaters not yet managing chunks. Consider scooping out a pre-salted portion for other little ones.
**Note: There are two kinds of chorizo, the cured, dried kind that resembles hard salami does and the fresh kind which is soft, uncooked sausage meat in natural casing. You want the former for this recipe.
I have been a fan of Muir Glen for a long time (and, apparently, the folks at Bon Appetit are fans, too!). I became a dedicated consumer when I learned a while back that they were switching to BPA-free cans (a process that’s complete, though read these notes on how you can make sure you’re getting one of their new BPA-free cans). Lucky for me, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with Muir Glen professionally and they periodically share new products with me for free. I’ve never guaranteed coverage in return for product and all opinions here are my own. In fact, though they’ve provided me with free fire roasted diced tomatoes, the ones used in this recipe were purchased with my own bucks.