Alastair Little Winter soups
Caldo verde (leek and potato soup with chorizo)
Prep Cooking Serves 25 min 50 min 4
60g unsalted butter 500g leek, sliced 50g celery, sliced 50g carrot, sliced 1kg potatoes (peeled weight), sliced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp finely ground black pepper 300ml double cream 1kg spring greens 200g chorizo
Melt the butter in a pan on a high heat then cook the leeks, carrot and celery, until slightly softened. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper, then continue cooking, stirring continuously for a minute or so, to get the potatoes coated with the butter. Add enough hot water to cover the veg by 1cm. Return to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender – about 20 minutes – stirring occasionally.
Add the cream and boil for a minute, then puree smooth with a stick blender. Check the seasoning, but be careful as this soup goes from underseasoned to oversalty easily. If too thick, add a little boiled water. Set aside.
Strip the leaves from the greens, roll them up and slice as thinly as you can lengthways into juliennes. Make three cross cuts to ensure that no long strands make it into the soup.
Boil a large pan of salted water and blanch the greens for two minutes. Refresh in cold water, then drain thoroughly, squeezing to get rid of as much water as possible. Fluff them up and set aside.
Skin the chorizo and put, tightly packed in a single layer, into a pan, then barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and turn off immediately. Allow to cool in the water. Drain, adding the cooking water to the soup base. When cool, slice the chorizo into 1cm rounds. Add the greens to the soup and heat back to a simmer. Put three rounds of chorizo in each soup bowl. Pour the hot soup over and serve.
Greek-style lentil soup
Prep Cooking Serves 20 min 1 hr 10 min 4
750g green lentils 50ml olive oil 200g onion, finely diced 200g carrot, finely diced 100g celery heart, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 pinch dried oregano 1 pinch dried chilli flakes 1 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper 150g tomato concentrate
10g parsley, finely chopped
25ml red-wine vinegar 50ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil Rinse the lentils, drain, then put into a large pan and cover with three times their volume of water. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then turn down to a simmer and cook until just tender – 25-30 minutes. Drain.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Fry over a brisk heat, until the vegetables are shiny and slightly softened. Add the garlic, rosemary, bay, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until very aromatic – about five minutes – stirring often.
Add the tomato puree and continue stirring and cooking for five minutes. Add the lentils and enough boiled water barely to cover. Bring back to a boil, stirring continuously, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the parsley, vinegar and a good quality olive oil.
The soup is now cooked, and it will be very thick, so add more boiled water to obtain the desired consistency. Remember, it is meant to be a hearty soup, not a thin gruel. Check the seasoning. It should have a distinct and refreshing taste of vinegar and be slightly salty. I have been cautious with the salt and vinegar, so adjust as you see fit.