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Chorizo and Cavolo Nero Soup
I am often asked about developing recipes with a) very few ingredients and b) minimum work. I am all in favour of this as long as I don’t have to use some of the associated terminology. While trawling through websites and Facebook groups for market research purposes I too often come across devotees of the phrase “dump and go” - and similar - which I have struggled to get out of my head. I have no idea who came up with this one, but to me implies a lack of respect for food and cooking – that it is nothing but a deeply resented chore. No thanks.
Of course cooking can be a chore. I do not float joyfully around my kitchen all day long, revelling in every moment. There are times when I really struggle to muster up the energy to cook the family dinner, especially when I have been working on sweet food all day (the endless testing and tasting can make you feel dizzy and nauseous if you aren’t very good at holding back), or – and this does sometimes happen – my testing of a particular bake has run into double figures. And although I do a quick meal in the thermos for the children most school mornings, I don’t bounce out of bed excited to be cooking risotto or pasta at 7am. I am more likely to be lying there willing myself to get out of bed, going over and over in my head the ingredients I have at my disposal, trying to decide what to cook.
So of course I also like recipes which are simple and quick and don’t involve visiting a dozen specialist shops to assemble the ingredients. BUT they have to work properly and taste as good as they possibly can. I don’t want to skip sauteeing for speed if it isn’t going to taste right. I’m also not going to reduce the ingredients for the sake of it.
There are recipes which are naturally very simple and when they work, they work brilliantly. A really good example is Marcella Hazan’s wonderful tomato sauce recipe which contains just tomato, butter and onion. It is a recipe I have based a tomato sauce on and developed further into my Buttery Tomato Soup (with added vegetables for extra nutrition, but you can pare it down), which seems to have been the most cooked recipe from Modern Pressure Cooking this winter.
My version involves very little prep – just a bit of very rough chopping, and everything is put in the pressure cooker together. No sauteeing, no adding things in stages, just pureeing after it is cooked. I am intending to develop more recipes along these lines and I am trying to figure out what to call them so they are instantly recognisable. Obviously not “dump and go”.
Anyway, I shall now get off my high horse and offer up today’s recipe. This works with a short ingredient list as the chorizo has a strong enough flavour to obviate the need for other aromatics. It is the sort of thing I might make on a Sunday night, especially if we have had a large lunch. We usually have decent bread in the house thanks to a Saturday or Sunday market (such as Daly Bread’s rosemary garlic brioche with camambert, bought at Chiswick Cheese Market, yesterday, pictured below), there is always cheese (NEVER be without cheese and butter in the house), to supplement if anyone wants something more substantial. And as always, it is very flexible. If you don’t want pasta, use rice or cooked beans or even potatoes. You can replace the cavolo nero with curly kale, or chard or cabbage. If you want to add herbs, add herbs – I wilted in some chopped wild garlic and some past their best mint leaves at the end which was nice but not necessary.
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Chorizo and Cavolo Nero Soup
200g cooking chorizo, sliced into rounds (picante or dolce, it is up to you)
2 tbsp tomato paste
850ml chicken or vegetable stock or water
50g very small pasta – I used conchigliette
300g cavolo nero, shredded (no need to strip from the stems unless you want to)
A squeeze of lemon juice
Put the chorizo in your pressure cooker and leave it on a gentle heat to start with until it starts to render out some of the fat.
Stir in the tomato paste – this you should saute for a couple of minutes to cook out the raw flavour a bit. Pour over the stock and stir to make sure the base of your pressure cooker is deglazed/completely clean. Sprinkle in the pasta, then add the cavolo nero, pushing it down into the liquid as much as possible. Season with salt and pepper.
Close the lid and bring up to high pressure on a high heat. Immediately remove from the heat and leave to drop pressure naturally for 5 minutes, then release the rest of the pressure. Remove the lid.
Stir, then taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Ladle into bowls and serve.