The weather forecast for this week is not good, not good at all, we look to have some real stormy, autumnal weather heading for the islands so perhaps it is time to start thinking of some hearty, warming recipes, comfort food like a nice chunky soup. Now personally I am not a big fan of soup, if I get out to eat, I go for the fish or seafood starter and save soup for when my mum makes her thick tomato and bacon version for a big Sunday lunch. But increasing when I am working and not at home with my family, soup is a one-pot wonder. Soup is tasty, nutritious, extremely good value for money, easy to make and you can use lots of store cupboard staple ingredients and most of the odd bits in the fridge.
Now I had some potatoes, onions and Chorizo in my fridge, so in my mind I was thinking something simple with perhaps a Spanish taste, the potatoes soaking up the flavour of the Chorizo. I looked up a recipe and came across Patatas Riojanas, a very simple rustic soup or stew from La Rioja. La Rioja is a small region in the north of Spain, most famous for its high-quality wines, and it has some lovely indigenous dishes. No one is sure about the origins of Patatas Riojanas, but it would not have existed until at least the 19th century and the introduction of potatoes into Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.
There is a story that Chef Paul Bocuse tasted this casserole in a well-known winery, and after three more plates told everybody Riojan style potatoes were the best food he had ever eaten. The world famous chef also recommended this meal to be the national dish of Spain. I have added a few carrots and some celery to my recipe to make more of a stew than a soup and have to say the result was absolutely delicious and very satisfying.
Patatas Riojanas Soup
750 gr Waxy Potatoes
2 large Onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 large Carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
3 large sticks of Celery, thoroughly washed and sliced
2 Red Peppers, grilled, skin and seeds removed
250 gr fresh Chorizo Sausage, cut into one-centimetre dice
50 ml good quality extra virgin Olive Oil
600 ml good quality Chicken Stock
A large glass ( 250 ml ) good Spanish White Wine preferably white Rioja
3 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped tablespoon of Plain Flour
1 heaped tablespoon sweet Spanish Paprika
½ teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Bay Leaf
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Freshly chopped Parsley to garnish
Pour the olive oil into a large, heavy bottom pan and gently sauté the Chorizo, sliced onion, carrots and celery for about ten to fifteen minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, then add garlic slices and potato and cook for five more minutes stirring constantly. Add the flour and cook out for two more minutes keeping stirring. Pour in the stock and white wine into the onion and chorizo mixture and add all the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low until potatoes are cooked. Be sure to check the level of the cooking liquid adding a little water if needed. When the potatoes are well cooked and start just to break up correct the seasoning, add the parsley, stir and serve.