Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Kind Of Like The First Time You Try Peanut Butter And Chocolate...

Happy Tuesday everyone! It's a new week, which means one very important thing - new recipes! I was eager to get back into the kitchen this week - especially to try tonight's recipe. Every once in a while I come across a recipe that I'm not sure about - but it looks interesting or like it would be a good challenge, so I make a note of it. Tonight's recipe was that type of recipe. When I was browsing Jamie Oliver's cookbook - I came across a soup blend that made me stop and go, "Really?" Nonetheless, this recipe included some of my favorite foods so I made a note of it - promising to return when soup was in 'season'.

As time passed, this recipe kept popping up in my mind. Finally, events from last week finally opened up the opportunity for me to tackle this dish. (By 'events' I mean that I forgot to use two sweet potatoes that I had picked up for another recipe. Rather than letting them go to waste - I thought now was a great time to try this recipe.) So, 'season' and conventions be damned - I'm making soup in July.

The Recipe: Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

2 Carrots
2 Medium Onions
2 Cloves Garlic
1 1/3 Lbs. Sweet Potatoes (Roughly 3 large potatoes)
7 Oz. Chorizo Sausage
1 3/4 Quarts (7 Cups) Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 Tsp. Curry Powder
1 Red Chile

Begin by pouring the broth into a medium saucepan set on medium heat. While the broth warms up, peel and slice your carrots, sweet potatoes, onions garlic and chorizo. Add everything to a large bowl as you finish chopping it up. Don't really worry about size here. Later on everything is going to be put through an immersion blender - so feel free to chop fast and sloppily...I won't tell anyone.

Chopped up sweet potatoes 

*Save of the night* As I turned my attention to the chorizo (A delicious little sausage made of...well, I find it's best to not ask what sausage is really made out of...imported from Spain. It has an amazing smokey flavor and a great texture - although it does ooze a little odd orange 'juice' when you cut it...) I started looking for a way to remove the outer paper. I have used enough deli sausage to know that nearly all kinds of sausage come wrapped in some form of outer paper/wax/shell. I sliced a tip off of the chorizo and dissected it - searching all the while for some sign of paper or coating. I came up with nothing. Still thinking this was odd, I turned my attention back to the rest of the sausage and began cutting it up normally. On my third slice I heard a familiar 'rip', my knife had caught the paper just right, and it began to tear away. It turns out that the paper on the chorizo was VERY thin - almost impossible to see and even harder to peel. I'm just glad that the paper ripped while I was slicing it...I would hate to think what everything would have turned out like if I cooked the chorizo paper and all!

Chorizo - fresh from Spain! 

Next, place a large pan on high heat. Emphasis on large here, the bigger the pot you have, the easier time you will have later on. Add two 'lugs' of olive oil (wait for the bottle to go 'lug' twice) and turn the heat up to high. Add in all of your chopped veggies and sliced ingredients. Add your teaspoon of curry powder here as well.

I opted to only add 1/2 tsp. of curry powder. I did this for two reasons - 1. I still have bad memories from the curried cod recipe - and our apartment smelled like curry for days afterwards. 2. I've found that Jamie (being a brit) likes curry a lot more than I do - I felt it was safer to halve the dose. If you like curry, live it up with the full teaspoon.

There's no real context for this picture. I just wanted to show everyone this neat little plastic garlic preserver we found at Bed Bath & Beyond this weekend. It's supposed to keep your garlic fresh for longer. We'll see how it works. 

Mix everything up with a wooden spoon and cook it all for about 10 - 12 minutes, with the lid of your pan slightly askew. Now, according to the recipe - you are supposed to wait until "the carrots are tender without losing their shape OR until the onions are nice and golden brown." Now, I'm not sure what Jamie was thinking here, but both of those suggestions are laughable. First, let's take inventory of what you're cooking with. Sweet potatoes (orange), carrots (orange) and chorizo (which oozes orange fluid) - everything in your pot is orange. EVERYTHING. There is no way on this earth you can see your onions turn golden brown, because they are ORANGE the instant you mix everything together. Secondly, as I pointed out, everything is orange. If you want to hunt around in the pot for a carrot (good luck) be my guest. I found it easier to just cook everything for about 12 minutes.

Visual image of 'askew' for those who were wondering

After 12 minutes, add your pot of boiling broth to the mixture. Give everything a good stir and bring the soup up to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so. The best test to see if your soup is ready is to take a fork and jab a sweet potato chunk. You should be able to pierce the potato easily.

Nice and hot - just before it was added to the veggies 

Finally, use an immersion blender (Similar to this KitchenAid Red Hand Blender) and mix the whole thing up right in the pot. I tried a few approaches to blending the soup. First, I stuck the blender over a batch of potatoes and sausage and pushed down - moved over a 1/2 inch and repeated the process. This was working - but it was too slow. Next, I placed the blender in the middle of the pot and held it steady. This had very little success as well. Finally, I held the blender just below the surface of the soup and slowly rotated it around the pot. This work superbly.

Our immersion blender - it does a very nice job

You'll be able to tell when everything is blended this way simply by feel. As the blender moves into an area with large pieces of potato or sausage - it will 'pull' to the bottom of the pan. Simply hold the blender in place until the pull stops, then continue moving around the pot until you find the next area of pull. After three or so minutes, your soup should be perfectly blended. All that is left is to chop up your chile and sprinkle that on top of the soup - finally, serve up and enjoy!

All blended and creamy

The Results:

Serve it up with a couple of crackers and enjoy! 

It's kind of like the first time you try peanut butter and chocolate. In your mind, you're thinking - really? Can these two things be good together? One bite, however, and you're sure. Yes - they can be good together. It's the same way for sweet potatoes and chorizo. The sweetness of the potato combines very nicely with the spicy bite of the chorizo (although chorizo really isn't that spicy - if you can handle summer sausage, you can handle chorizo.)

What you end up with is a nice, smokey, soup. The overall flavor is that of a sweet potato, however, the chorizo adds a smokey flavor to the whole dish. The soup is neither hot, nor sweet - rather it's this (almost hard to define) blend between the two. It's warm - yet mild. It's delicious!

The only change I would make to this recipe would be to omit the chile.

 *Aside: I did some digging as to why the red chile seems to be so hard to find right now. It turns out, they are out of season. Grocery stores that bring in fresh ingredients (Hy-Vee & Gateway Market) simply cannot stock true Mexican chiles during this time of year. I'm assuming that Target either owns a large farm - or contracts out another company with said farm - that grows fruits and veggies out of season.*

Peak season is August - October 

While the rest of the soup was a nice, warm, mild flavor  - the chile was overpoweringly HOT. When you hit a bite that had a small diced chile in it - you knew. This had to have been one of the hottest red chiles we've ever had! Even if the chile had not been as hot - the soup really doesn't need that extra kick. All of the ingredients blend very well together as it currently stands.

This recipe is certainly going into our big book of repeat recipes - here's hoping you give it a try for yourself. Don't let your assumptions fool you. The flavor here isn't what your mind 'assumes' it to be. This dish is one of those rare occurrences where two things that don't seem related - turn out to be fantastic!

That's all we have for you tonight! I'm back in the kitchen tomorrow with a recipe that is (appearing to be) rather complicated. (Actually, it combines two ingredients that you don't normally associate with each other either! Just noticed that!) Come back tomorrow to see what I've got cooking. Until then,


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