Looking back, it seems that almost every January I present some kind of healthy recipe for those observing new year’s resolutions (except last year, where I pivoted to cinnamon rolls). I’m not much of a resolution maker, but by the beginning of the new year, I’ve usually been eating Christmas cake and chocolate for so many consecutive days that my body will shut down if I don’t immediately rectify the situation with vegetables.
So, in our usual tradition, I present to you a great pantry raid soup that you can customize to your tastes, replete with healthy vegetables, lentils, and a little chorizo for flavor and interest. I love dried chorizo — it was part of the holiday charcuterie board I made for Christmas snacking — but didn’t think about using it this way until the past weekend. Chorizo has so much flavor, and cooking it first so that everything else has the benefit of cooking in its oil is a great way to go. This plus broth equals awesome flavor throughout.
This recipe also takes advantage of the local foods that are great for seasonal storage — onions, garlic, and potatoes. Farmers of all shapes and sizes stock up on these at the end of the harvest season, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find local or semi-local potatoes, onions, and garlic this time of year. Look in any co-op or grocery store that engages in partnerships with local farms or local farm suppliers, or just use what you have on hand.
As usual, this is a recipe you can play around with. Skip the celery if you don’t have any around. The tomato paste adds some extra layers of flavor, but it’s not necessary if you need to skip it. If you hate kale, use spinach or chard or even escarole. I used baby carrots, also leftover from charcuterie board offerings, in place of regular carrots. To me, this is the best kind of cooking — making your chaotic pantry into an orderly, delicious meal that tastes even better the next day.
CHORIZO, LENTIL AND POTATO SOUP
4 small dried Chorizo sausages (or one large)
2 cups yellow potatoes (new potatoes are the best but you can use any type), chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 onion or 3 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 stalk of celery
2-3 medium carrots
1 cup green lentils
3-5 cups broth (or more)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch of kale
Prepare onion/shallots, celery, carrots, and garlic: Finely chop and set aside.
Chop sausages into 1/2-inch nubs. Sauté in a heavy-bottomed pot with around 1 tablespoon olive oil until the sausages are crispy and have released some of their oil, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove sausages, leaving oil, and set aside. Add potatoes and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, until potatoes have a little sheen and are beginning to brown. Add onion/shallots, garlic, celery, and carrots to pot and sauté until onions are beginning to become translucent, another 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add dried thyme and rosemary.
Add tomato paste to pot, and stir, cooking 2-4 minutes until tomato paste is homogenous with the rest of your veggies. Return chorizo to pot.
Rinse and sort through lentils, then add to the pot along with the broth. The 3-5 cups here is an estimate — you just want enough broth to keep this in soup-town, plus more for the lentils to absorb. A lot of this depends on the size of your pot.
Simmer 20 to 40 minutes until lentils are soft. Chop kale and add to soup, cooking five minutes longer. Serve (a little grated parmesan as a garnish certainly wouldn’t hurt).