Thursday 15 March 2012

Jumping Soup

In my blog post earlier today I asserted confidently that mental health services haven't any useful advice to offer about our general happiness and contentment but that doesn't mean that good advice on that very subject doesn't exist. It's just that you won't get it from mental health services - no, not even Hafal but at least we don't poke our noses into the matter. By contrast I can point to one useful source...

Mrs Blog prepares huge vats of soup for the freezer which is then dispensed in 3/4 pint units for me to heat up in work for lunch. A couple of years ago she undertook an informal customer satisfaction survey by eliciting my comments. The best report was for the lentil and chorizo soup which I described as making me "jump for joy" when I find it in my brief-case on those otherwise dismal winter days which challenge the bonhomie of even the sunniest-dispositioned P.A.Y.E. slave. Since then this example of frugal Spanish cuisine has been known in Blog Towers as "Jumping Soup".

Describing this story to Hafal's Tina Arnold (known to many of you as the friendly face of our busy Membership Department) I promised her the recipe but then thought I might as well share it more widely...

Fry a chopped onion and a diced carrot in a tablespoon of olive oil; add two chopped cloves of garlic and stir for a few seconds; add 2 pints of stock, a bouquet garni, and a tin of tomatoes; season then bring to boil and simmer for half an hour; add 4 oz red lentils and 4 - 6 oz chopped chorizo sausage and simmer for another 25 minutes; remove the bouquet, blitz with a Bamix, food processor, or liquidiser, adjust seasoning and serve (or cool and freeze). Serves 4 Spanish peasants or 6 wimps.

Yum. It's the fat in the sausage enhanced by the smokey paprika which makes this soup fly. Like the best cooking it owes its creation to canny peasants on one Peseta a day (standard pay in Spain until about 1960) eking out the basics - in this case lentils - with a tiny bit of something richer. Chorizo sausage can be bought in most supermarkets and it's quite cheap - Mrs B recommends Lidl. It's also a great diet aid as its flavour is so strong and warm that you can use it very sparingly in risotto and other healthy dishes requiring some pizzazz.

There's no real veggie alternative although you could try using smoked paprika instead of the sausage - no doubt nice enough but no self-respecting campesino would pick olives or grapes all day in the arid dust-bowls of Almeria on such slight fare (nor, with less justification, would I do my job to be frank).

Forage alert: wild garlic is good to pick, early because of the warm weather. Details from last year here.