Field Mushroom and British Chorizo Minestrone
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a hearty lunch
The word minestrone means a ‘big soup’ that is substantial and is made with plenty of mixed chunky vegetables, usually with the addition of pasta, rice or beans. Minestrone soup forms the cornerstone of Italian cuisine and there is no real set recipe as it varies from region to region. It’s mainly cooked with whatever vegetables are to hand, with the addition of either pasta or rice, but meat is optional. Well, I suppose it all comes down to whatever leftovers are available. This kind of recipe is right up my street as our dinners normally consist of whatever needs using up. At home we call it a ‘fridge special’ instead.
I’m fond of good chorizo that is chewy and spicy and it’s brilliant to cook with, so when I discovered that there are a few producers here in Britain making British chorizo with British Freedom Food-approved pork, I was one happy foodie. The word chorizo refers to the recipe and style of sausage used and the rest, well, it’s British.
In this recipe, the chorizo adds a smoky, rich flavour to my soup, but you can substitute it for a more traditional sausage if you do not have chorizo to hand. I have used pasta ‘rice’ known as orzo pasta, but you could use short macaroni or long grain white rice instead or simply break spaghetti into small pieces.
Ingredients & Method
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 baking potatoes, such as Desiree (200–250g each), peeled and diced
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- 300g field mushrooms or mixed fresh wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 200g chorizo, cut into 1cm pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 100g orzo pasta (or use short macaroni, long-grain white rice or spaghetti broken into small pieces)
- 200ml dry white wine or dry sherry
- 1.2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, garlic, potatoes, celery, all the mushrooms, the chorizo, smoked paprika and salt and pepper and sauté over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown. The lower the heat you use (a medium heat is perfect), the more even golden brown colour you will get, and the most flavour will be extracted from the meat and vegetables. Avoid a fierce, high heat, stir regularly and do not be tempted to add more oil.
Once you are happy with the colouring of the vegetables and meat, add the orzo pasta to the pan and mix well, then add the wine and let it bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Cook over a high heat for 8–10 minutes or until all the wine is absorbed.
Add the stock, cover the pan and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over a low heat, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking, then continue to simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the soup is thickened, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish each portion with a sprinkling of snipped chives. Serve with warm freshly baked bread on the side.
This soup tastes even better the following day, so if you like you can make it a day in advance and keep it refrigerated for the next day. Simply make the soup as directed, then remove from the heat and leave it to cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container and use within 3 days. When you are ready to serve, reheat the soup gently in a saucepan until piping hot. The soup will have thickened in the fridge, so when reheating it, add a little extra stock or some water to thin it down.