March 2nd, 2010

Mushroom and English Chorizo Minestrone

A Tribute to Rose Gray ……

Oh! the wind is cutting through my bones today! It’s grey, miserable and very wet. Well I know what you must be thinking, there she goes again whingeing about the weather. Well yes that’s true but I’m taking advantage of the cold to cook this absolutely delicious, body and soul warming soup. Well it’s more like stew  as it contains loads of chunky pieces of mushrooms, potatoes and pasta with a rich and soothing broth.

The word Minestrone means ” big soup” made with plenty of chunky vegetables. Minestrone soup forms the cornerstone of Italian cuisine and there is no real set recipe. 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 what leftovers that are available. This kind of recipe is right up my street as our dinners normally consist of whatever needs using up. There is plenty to go round for a few suppers, it’s filling and packed with plenty of flavour.

A few weeks ago I went to Great Garnets Farmers Market held every second Saturday of the month. I was pleasantly surprised as there were plenty of stalls showing off their locally produced wares. The vibe was great as around 500 people flock from near and far with their wicker baskets and recycled bags. You could clearly see which stalls were the most popular as some were nearly done and dusted within a few hours from opening.

It was a lovely sign as the beautiful barn exuded  excitement, as the wicker baskets filled up with various seasonal and local goods. I had a warm fuzzy feeling thinking that people made an effort to drive down the windy bumpy country lane to come to Great Garnets to find local seasonal produce. I believe that this is one of many events round the country supporting local small producers and suppliers. It’s great and made me definitely feel good to contribute and partake.

My best finds of the day were :- this delicious English chorizo made by Sean from The Back Garden in Essex; Coldham Wood Mushrooms; Goose Eggs and Smoked Goats Cheese from Springstep Farm, Maldon Essex; and then the most delicious smoked bacon and award winning sausages from Great Garnets itself. The chorizo, made from the pork produced by Great Garnets,is a tasty dried lightly spiced sausage. It is a great product and can be used in small amounts in plenty of different ways. The chorizo adds a smokey rich flavour to this recipe, however you can substitute it for a more traditional sausage if you do not have chorizo to hand.

I have used Orzo pasta also known as rice pasta. You might find this a unfamiliar ingredient in the UK  however it is widely used and found in Europe and USA. I have known about orzo for quite some time now but I could simply not find it anywhere until fairly recently. It’s good news as we can buy orzo now in the UK , Merchant Gourmet started selling orzo online and some supermarkets stock a small range of their products.

* Ps* I did not forget to use the goose eggs and smoked goats cheese, it will feature in another delicious breakfast recipe very soon….

  • 200g peeled and sliced onions (approximately two medium sized onions)
  • 375g Desiree potatoes, peeled and cubed 2cm
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 200g field mushrooms, sliced
  • 100 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 160g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 100g chorizo, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 100g orzo pasta
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1.2L vegetable stock
  • 1tbs chopped chives for serving

The most difficult task  of  this recipe is the preparation of the ingredients, it takes a bit of time, so pour yourself a glass of wine and take your time. Peel the onions and slice them through the root, like a cake, into thin slices. Peel and dice the potato into 2cm cubes and cut the chorizo sausage into 1cm pieces. Cut all the mushrooms into wedges as per the onions and crush the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat and sauté the onions, diced potato, salt and pepper, smoked paprika, all the mushrooms, chorizo and the crushed garlic until golden brown. Cover the pan with the lid for a few minutes while sautéing so that it does not take on too much colour, stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning. Do not be tempted to add more oil, the sautéing process takes about 8 - 10 minutes.

Add the orzo pasta and mix well.

Once you are happy with the amount of colouring deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until all the wine is absorbed.

Add the stock, cover the pan with a lid and bring the soup to a gentle simmer, stir frequently to prevent the pasta  sticking to  the base of the pan and gently simmer for 25 minutes over low heat.

Serve the piping hot soup with a sprinkling of chopped chives and warm freshly baked bread on the side.

Serves 6 - 8

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6 Comments to “Mushroom and English Chorizo Minestrone”

  1. Cheryl McGee says:

    So glad you’re enjoying our chorizo! Response to our take on a typically Spanish food has been unbelievable. Last month I took a trip to Barcelona, taking a dozen or so Back Garden chorizo along with me. Friends did question my sanity at this, but again the reaction was amazing. Comments were very complimentary, culminating in “I can’t believe an English woman made this!”. I think they liked it.

  2. This sounds easy and fantastic. I must try! Thank you for sharing.

  3. gilnar says:

    I am sitting here having my dinner – mushroom and English chorizo minestrone. DELICIOUS!!!! Madelene, thank you SO much for your generosity in offering your recipes.

  4. We’ve just moved into official Autumn (1 March) and it’s definitely chillier tonight. The thought of this has warmed me up even if I refuse to give up on summer produce yet. Orzo is easily available here and quite a popular pasta salad from the deli counters. I’ve never thought of using it in soup before but I’ll definitely give this a go.

  5. Maria says:

    Beautiful! Rose Gray was a extrodinary woman and a brilliant chef. This recipe sounds amazing, love the tiwsits and use of different ingredeints.

  6. Esther says:

    I’d been looking for Orzo for a long time, and had scoured every local deli etc…then I spotted it in the ethnic foods section of Asda – if you can’t locate it anywhere else, it’s worth a look!

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