A soup with a kick and a tickle that is bound to get you buzzing this winter. A real Sopa de Espana here, all ingredients coming from the Mazarron area.
Many people have asked what the heck we are doing going on a three month holiday. Who one earth do we think we are?!!!!!etc….. Well, we’re making soup; and other things. This soup sprang up from a little potter in the kitchen and rifle through the veggie box. It’s not snowing in the bay, but it can get slightly chilly some night fall.
Here in Murcia, people are wrapped up warm, scarves wrapped around their faces and big thick coats are all the rage. It’s 18-24 degrees! It makes me smile and also admire the resilience of the good folk of Britain and other cold parts of the world. This soup is an offering from the Beach House Kitchen to all those shivering and sniffing their way through with a smile.
Noras are little dried red peppers sold all over Spain and normally used when preparing stews and soups. They add a lovely sweet, peppery tang to all they touch and remind me of the wonder food of Mexico, where the dried chilli is king. Dried peppers come in many shapes and sizes, some large black and sticky, some dark red and spicy.
Pimiento is another word for pepper, red pepper, we love it because it sounds so Spanish! We are lucky (we know this!) to have wild thyme growing in the ramble (dry river bed) below our home. Splashing a little olive oil on the top of a soup really adds richness to proceedings, olive oil is of course ubiquitous with all things Spanish food. It’s crops up in biscuits, cakes, shower gel and even amazing crisps (crisps fried in olive oil seems so decadent!). We need alot of calories and fat in winter months when the body is trying to keep us from perishing! Olives lend a hand here. My friend Chris, who lives here swears by it and claims bread is ‘merely a vehicle for olive oil’.
The veg. stock we used here came from last nights dinner, the water used for cooking potatoes. Such a shame to throw it away, it is packed with flavour. Back in Wales, we’d blend this together with a hand blender, soups with potato in always blend amazingly well. They go very creamy and full. Here, we enjoyed the texture of the lumps and chunks, listening to Ravi Shankar (r.i.p. Ravi ji) and toasted our friends and family on the grey island, hoping they were all cosy and shiny.
This recipe makes one big panful, enough for approx, 6 decent bowlfuls.
1 onion (sliced), 1 stick celery (sliced), 2 large potatoes (firm variety/ cubed), 3 noras (finely sliced), 2 large tomatoes (skin them if you have the time), 2 heaped teas smoked paprika, ½ teas chilli powder (we used a fresh green chilli named ‘Pimiento Padron – Shepherds Peppers’. Que rico!), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas fresh thyme, approx. 1 1/2 -2 litres good veggie stock, 1 big handful coriander, good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.
In a large soup/ saucepan heat a little oil, begin to sweat off your onion. After the onion becomes glassy and soft add your noras and cook for 2 minutes, then add your paprika, thyme and finally your balsamic vinegar. This will begin to bubble and evaporate, stir well and get all the ingredients nicely involved with each other. If things get a little sticky and dry, add a splash of veggie stock to loosen things up. Season nicely.
Now for the potatoes and peppers, cook for 5 minutes until softened, then add you tomato and cook until the tomato has broken down and formed a sauce like consistency. Then add your stock and stir, bring to the boil and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender.
Piping hot, topped with a handful of coriander, a splash of olive oil (a la Espana) and big cry of ‘Buen Provecho!’ My thing with soups is, not too hot! Firstly you’ll burn your poor mouth and secondly the flavours come out a little better when the soup has cooled a tad.
We Love It!
Even though we are not freezing and are wearing our shorts, we know this soup would hit the spot in our little wintery cottage back home in Wales. A lovely tangy soup with all the joys of a fiery chilly kick. Wicked winter warmer.
Paprika (or Pimenton) is a superb, bright red spice used in traditional Spanish cooking. There are several different types of Paprika; namely spicy, sweet, smoked or combinations of the above. Paprika is made from dried and ground red chillis, traditionally peppers were dried under the sun. One of the finest areas for Paprika in Spain is Murcia, the region that we call home.