Spanish Chorizo & Tomato Soup

This scrumptious recipe was whipped up by my husband, after we tried something similar from the supermarket and decided we could probably improve on it (and make it cheaper)! The flavours are rich and deep, and yet it’s surprisingly healthy, with a respectable number of vegetables involved.

Served in a beautiful bowl made by my very talented father, Richard Godfrey

2 cans of chopped tomatoes, plus a can-full of water
About 100g of chorizo
100g red lentils
1 red pepper
1 onion
Dried parsley
A couple of cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Cheddar cheese, to serve

Serves 6-8.

First of all, if the inclusion of lentils is putting you off, please do give them a chance. I must confess I’m not a huge fan, but in soup they add a lovely thickness, as well as upping the healthy rating, so they’re well worth putting in. They’re also not as much work as you may have been led to believe – the ones I bought were just a straightforward Sainsbury’s own-brand, but they didn’t require any lengthy overnight soaking. Check the packet carefully when you buy them though, because there are lots of different varieties.

Start out by dicing the onion and the pepper (don’t forget to strip out the seedy bit inside) and get them sizzling gently in a splash of olive oil. While they’re doing that, pop your lentils in a little pan and cover them with boiling water – bring them to the boil and keep them bubbling for ten minutes, then turn down the heat and leave them to simmer for another fifteen minutes or so, until they’ve become very mushy. One important note – they may well start bubbling up alarmingly and producing a huge amount of foam! Apparently this is water-soluble protein being released from the lentils, and it is completely normal – there’s no need to scoop it off or anything, just keep a close eye on the pan if you don’t want to end up with a big mess…

Once the onions and peppers have softened and started to turn golden, add the chopped tomatoes, then fill up one of the empty cans with water and add that too. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper, crush in a couple of garlic cloves, and add a good sprinkling of dried parsley. Leave it to simmer gently while you wait for the lentils.
When they’re ready, drain the lentils in a fine sieve (they should have become very soft and mushy) and add them to the soup pan, stirring well, before whizzing the whole thing up with a hand-blender, so you end up with a nice thick soup. Finally, cut your chorizo into chunky slices and then halve these (or buy ready-chopped chorizo!) and sprinkle these into the soup.

Leave the whole thing to simmer for a bit longer (to give the chorizo time to become tender), and then serve up piping hot with a bit of grated cheddar slowly melting on the top. If you find it’s just not fiery enough for you, feel free to add your sweet chilli or hot sauce of choice with a liberal hand – but be aware that soup tends to get hotter over time when you keep it, so if you stick it in the fridge or freezer, it may surprise you when you next come to eat it!