Oh man, it is getting chilly here in San Diego! And of course, by chilly I mean highs in the mid sixties during the day, and lows of high forties at night. I know, some of you have snow already, and I feel for you. I really do. But I swear my blood has thinned after living in Southern California for six years now. After dealing with Midwest winters and living in the snow belt for most of my life, you would think I would be tougher. And I can be pretty tough, but right now, I am just cold.
So here is what I have been doing lately - eating a hot bowl of creamy oatmeal for breakfast, wrapping my hands around a steaming cup of coffee, wearing thicker socks and comfy sweaters, and cuddling up on the couch with my sweet little puppy. Oh, and I have also been eating lots and lots of soups.
I have been filling up on pho and chicken noodle soup from some of my favorite restaurants, but when it comes to tomato-based soups I would just rather make it at home myself. (Call me picky, but I always find tomato soups from restaurants to be sort of bland, not nearly tomato-ey enough for my taste.) I have had the idea in my head for awhile now that I wanted to make a batch of nice and spicy tomato soup, and I knew I wanted to heat it up with chorizo. I had seen a recipe for including Spanish chorizo in a sort of thick stew-like soup, but I wanted to experiment with the Mexican chorizo since that is more readily available and less expensive around here. Normally, Mexican chorizo is used in tacos and the like, but I thought it could definitely be used in soup too. But I just couldn't decide what to pair with the chorizo...
And then, as usually happens, I got inspired by a visit to the farmers market. As I was browsing around last Saturday at the Little Italy Farmers Market, I happened upon these adorable golden cippolini onions from Schaner Farms.
Cippolini onions are a bit sweeter than regular yellow onions, but not quite as sweet as shallots. They have a cute satellite sort of shape, and lovely yellow and tan skin. Cippolinis are ususally roasted and are amazing on pizzas, but is there any reason I can't throw them in my soup? I think not.
So into the pot they went. The little cippolinis got sauteed with some sliced carrots and some garlic, and then I added the fiery red chorizo. At first it started out as one big lump of meat in the pot, but with a little coaxing it broke up into tiny pieces that ended up being distributed perfectly throughout the soup. To round it out and enhance the heat from the chorizo, I added fire roasted crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes with garlic and onion (I can never get enough garlic!), and then some plain broth. Oh, and at the last minute, I felt the impulse to throw in some kale too. (I find it is usually a good idea to trust my impulses in the kitchen. And in life. Well, sometimes in life.)
Soft and spicy Mexican pork chorizo.
Curly kale, washed well.
In the end, I thought I might have to add some other flavorings to amp up the spice or bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes... but then it was just right. Oh it was definitely spicy - not overpowering, but enough that it made my nose a little sniffly. (Does that happen to you too? When you eat something spicy it makes your nose run? Hopefully it does, and I don't just sound like a weirdo.) I am so glad I tried the Mexican chorizo in this soup, because it gave it a fantastic flavor that would have been missing if it had already been cooked (ie. Spanish chorizo).
But I think what I loved the most about this soup was the texture. The onions and carrots were tender but still a had a little crunch, the kale was soft but not falling apart, and the cooked chorizo was slightly chewy. The broth itself was rich from cooking the chorizo, and not completely smooth since it had the crushed and diced tomatoes. Each bite gave me flavors and components that were different than the previous one.
And of course it warmed me right up.
And then I went back to the couch for more cuddle time.
You might also like: Ana's Weeknight Broccoli Soup
One year ago: Foodbuzz Festival: The Food
Spicy Chorizo, Cippolini, and Tomato Soup
About 1 lb cippolini onions, peeled, and halved or quartered (about 2 cups)
1 cup thinly sliced and peeled carrots
1 tsp minced garlic
12 oz Mexican chorizo
1 can Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz)*
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion (14.5 oz)*
1 1/2-2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz each)
1 large bunch of curly kale, washed well, stalks removed and sliced into ribbons
At least 1 tbsp salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat about 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add onions and carrots, and saute for about 5 minutes - then add the garlic and saute for a few minutes more, or until the onions are softened and the carrots are tender. Add the chorizo all at once, and use a heat-resistant spatula or tongs to break it apart and start to cook it. (At first it will just be one big lump, but just keep stretching it apart and tossing it together with the vegetables to break it apart.) Cook over medium heat for a 3-5 more minutes, adding an extra tablespoon of olive oil if everything starts to look dry.
Add the whole can of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, one can of the chicken broth, plus the salt and pepper. Mix well, and if the mixture looks too thick, add another whole or half can of chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to bring all the flavors together. Lastly, add the kale, mix it in to wilt it, and then simmer it for just a few minutes more to soften the greens. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
*If you can't find these or don't want to use them, I would suggest using regular crushed or diced tomatoes and then adding extra garlic, onions, and either crushed dried red red pepper or chili pepper.