Nigel Slater’s Chorizo and Bean soup stew
SNOW! Proper. Snow. It has settled and everything! I love snow. It takes me back to of winters of yore (ok, the mid to late eighties) when we lived on a remote farm and got snowed in every winter. Back then every single Christmas was white, godammit, and my parents used to strap Viktor, the piebald Shetland pony impulse-bought by my dad from a circus, to a small sled for Santa to use on his rounds before coming to us with presents. Incidentally, given that he is covered from top to toe in bad tattoos, it’s a testament to my dad’s amazing ability for disguises that it took me until I was nine years old to figure out it was him behind the beard. It was a soul destroying discovery.
Snow is also one of the main reasons behind my relentless Let’s Move Back to Sweden! campaign (besides, you know, the schnapps, the strong economy, the virtually free childcare, the exceedingly generous maternity leave and the schnapps). “Goblin and Troll the Foetus ought to experience proper seasons and white Christmases just like I did!” I wail forlornly. My other half, having grown up in the damp West Country and being equipped with the view that snow is merely an obstacle to overcome during his Very Important Commute, just shrugs cruelly.
ANYWAY, the point that I wanted to make is that the thing with snow and cold weather in general is that it provides an excellent excuse - should you need one - for warming, comforting one pot meals with lots of flavour. Such as this Spanish inspired chorizo and bean stew, by Nigel Slater. It really is lovely, and it’s everything I want out of a dinner when it’s delightfully cold outside. It’s also, once you are done arsing about with all the chopping, very easy to make. If I say one thing it’s don’t leave out the orange peel or the fennel seeds (unless you absolutely can’t stand fennel, you weird, weird person) as it marries beautifully with the smoked paprika flavour of the chorizo and in my frankly grossly unprofessional opinion makes the dish. Do as I say!
Oh, and Nigel refers to this as a “soup”. Hey Nige? It’s a stew, man. It’s a stew.
For about four people you will need:
2 onions - chopped.
3 or so garlic cloves – thinly sliced or just squeezed through a garlic press. Why faff?
2 carrots – chopped.
A rib of celery (that’s a stick of celery to you and me) – chopped.
A tablespoon fresh oregano though I used dry, as I don’t habitually have fresh oregano knocking about in winter
Chorizo – about 400g or however much or little you want, cut into bite sized chunks. I use Unearthed’s cooking chorizo, but this will work well with whatever chorizo you have to hand.
Fennel seeds – Nigel says a pinch but I use a lot more because I love fennel, and I really think it adds to the dish.
3-4 strips of orange zest.
A glass of dry sherry (or white wine, which I used, though I prefer sherry for sherry is the nectar of the gods – I just didn’t have any at home).
5-6 tomatoes – chopped. I (along with Nigel in this instance) don’t bother with the whole peel ‘n’ deseed business, but if you’re feeling less barbaric go ahead and do it.
2 tins of cannellini beans – drained.
Do like so:
1 Heat some oil in a deep pan. Moderate heat. Cook the onion until it starts to soften. Add garlic, carrot and celery, then leave to cook until the onion is golden and soft. Stir in the oregano.
2. Add the chorizo along with the crushed chillies, fennel seeds and strips of orange zest. Cook until the chorizo starts to release its juices to coat the veg. This is delicious and a Very Good Thing. Throw in your glass of sherry/white wine/vermouth and reduce down a bit.
3. Once reduced add your chopped tomatoes, beans and some fresh water – about a canful. Season well with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and leave to slowly cook half covered by a lid, for about 45 minutes.
4. Before serving sprinkle with some chopped parsley and maybe some grated orange zest.
We had this with warm sundried tomato rolls which I made by mixing some sundried tomatoes with the ingredients for a basic white dough and then employing my trusty old bread maker. Bread makers are magic! Eat this while looking out the window at all that pretty, PRETTY snow, feeling warm and cosy and smug that you’re not actually outside in it. Because it’s cold. And wet. And the little shits from next door will chuck snowballs mixed with pebbles right at your neck the second you step outside. You know they will.