It’s so unfair… this is the lovely, long Easter weekend and we were planning to go North for a family get-together and I have a rotten cold. I can’t think straight, my tonsils are swollen, my chest is rattling and I feel like death warmed up. We can’t go home and inflict this on everyone so we are staying put.
I haven’t got much in to cook with because we were going to be away and, besides, I don’t really want to cook anything long and involved. I want quick and easy. The weather is awful and we need to be warmed through.
When I go to the larder to see what there is, I have soup in mind. That would be easy to swallow and it would be good for me. Soup is always good for you when you have a cold or are under the weather… the steaming goodness opens everything up and makes you feel like you are in the land of the living again.
I find some tinned chickpeas on the shelf and in the fridge, I know there’s some chorizo. I can make soup with that, I think…..
I can picture it in my mind.. almost taste it…. hot and soothing, creamy smooth chickpeas with lovely chorizo slices to spike it up a bit….
So, I chop the onion and start to cook it
Next, I open the can and rinse the chickpeas…. that’s essential as I hate that gloopy stuff that collects round them in the tin. I know it is just the chickpea starch but it needs rinsing off. That and the briney stuff the chickpeas are in. If there’s flavour to be added, it will be me doing it, not the tin.
So, stir the chickpeas round to get them coated in the oniony juices and bits of onion (this is going to be the quickest soup ever as the chickpeas are cooked – all you have to cook, really, is the onion)
I want some smokey heat in the soup, so a good heaped teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika will give a certain depth to it.
Stir it in and watch the colour change to a cheering golden glow
Add a pint or so of water and some stock granules
And then… well, this is when cooking while marginally delerious takes you down an unexpected culinary road……
I was thinking, in my slightly befuddled way, that chickpeas were lovely but if I added , say, ground almonds it would give a lovely rich dimension….thickening things. and adding flavour.
So I reached for one of my storage jars (which the eagle eyed amongst you may recognise as coffee jars… waste not want not, I say, and they are excellent to put dried goods in. Thing is, I never label them because I can see what’s in them. I wash them and peel the label off and then use them again. It keeps my larder looking neat and as all the jars are the same size they can be stacked on top of one another. Good thinking, eh?)
See? Looks like ground almonds.
Except it was fine polenta! I realised after I had poured some in that I had used the last of the ground almonds a couple of weeks ago….
Well, there was nothing for it but to carry on. I added some more water and stirred it round to cook it.
A good old whizz with the blender turned it all into a golden, silky soup. I tasted it to see if the seasoning needed any adjustment. I had to get the Bear to check as I couldn’t really be trusted because of my cold. A pinch of Maldon salt and it was judged to be pretty good.
The chorizo needed slicing
and adding to the soup – a few minutes to cook through was all they needed… and that was it.
From start to finish (including the three or four minutes where I stared at the polenta jar in puzzlement) that took about twenty minutes.
All I had to do was swirl some chilli oil over the top and add an extra few wafer thin slices of chorizo and there it was.
The prettiest bowl of soup. Golden yellow and glowing. Tasting absolutely delicious!
Sometimes you discover things by accident and you are really glad you did.
That soup was rich and tasty and my poor, sore throat felt soothed by it. I felt happier than I did when I started to make it.. .. and all that golden goodness filled me and relaxed me so I went back to bed and snoozed through the afternoon.
And, do you know what? I will make it again and the next time I will deliberately add polenta.