Sunday, January 20, 2008

Soup: part I

I don’t know how it happened, but I’ve become addicted to soups. I used to look at them with contempt, thinking ‘I don’t want to drink my food, I want to eat it. Soup is of no use to me.’ Come to think of it, I think I started getting into soup when I stopped being at home and stopped having central heating. Thank God Barcelona winters are mild, but it’s still not the Caribbean or something here, so it does get cold, and you don’t want something refreshing on those cold nights, you want something warm and soothing. So there came the soup.

I always love a new cookbook too, a chance to attempt something new. And lately I’ve gotten into ethnic foods (still trying to work out how to cook them), but the Moro cookbook from the restaurant in London has been a good friend this winter. I’ve already made four soups out of it, things I thought I’d never be interested in, but once I started I couldn’t stop. Moro’s a mixture of Spanish and Moorish food, so I have most of the ingredients right at my fingertips.

I can’t say I liked this soup better than the others, because they’re all so different, I can’t decide, and they’ll all eventually be posted, so don’t worry. I think I’m posting this one first because it is the one that I would have thought I’d never liked, but it was so rich and different, I’m tempted to make it again. I normally don’t lean towards brothy soups, but this is full of flavor, color, and various components.

Garlic Soup
from Moro the Cookbook

4 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 large garlic bulbs, broken in cloves with the skin kept on
100g cooking chorizo, cut into pieces*
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1 liter chicken stock
4 eggs
8 slices good bread (ciabatta or sourdough), toasted
salt and pepper

*The first time I made it, I actually used regular, already cured chorizo and it turned out really well, but if you do that, make sure you get a good quality one because the flavor is very evident, oh, and I used ham stock instead of chicken, so then you could definitely taste the chorizo more than the garlic. The second time I followed the recipe and it was a bit later and the garlic was a lot more evident…I’m not sure which I like better, both very tasty.

Heat the oil over a low flame in a big pot that you’ll use for your soup and add the garlic. Gently fry for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the skins are golden brown but not dark, and the flesh inside is soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, and when cool, squeeze out the garlic, puree, and set aside. Meanwhile, add the chorizo to the pan and fry until crisp and caramelized. Add the thyme, fry for a few seconds, then the pureed garlic. Stir well, add the paprika and finally pour on the chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and check seasoning. About two minutes before serving, poach the eggs in the soup (drop them in carefully and cover the pot with the top). To serve, ladle soup and an egg into a bowl, submerge a piece of bread. Now you should be nice and warm with your soup.

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