Given endless options, weekend dinner parties are great. Especially on Saturdays. Time to clean, time to cook, time to make sure everything's in order. But since when do we live in a world of endless options? Since never. And so, with a Monday night dinner party on the schedule, I did a little planning, and a little Sunday farmers' market shopping, and improvised my way into a soup I'm now going to make again and again.
The recipe I started with starred chorizo, potatoes, and kale. Chorizo I had on hand, since it keeps forever and is, well, super delicious for all occasions. Potatoes, I knew I could get: they had fingerlings at the farmers' market, so I was set there. The recipe called for russets, but I wanted to take this in a more elegant direction. It was a dinner party, after all. Elegance without fussiness was my aim.
As for kale? Well, I could have found some, but once I saw the sign at the market -- "RAMPS! LAST WEEK!" -- it wasn't necessary.
Would the delicate flavor of the ramps be overwhelmed by the spicy chorizo? Would the greens supply enough green? Would the potatoes fall apart in the soup? Would my plan to make foccacia croutons ahead of time end in soggy, sad bread lumps?
Suspense ended: it was delicious. And even though my camera was unexpectedly out of batteries as I served up the soup, I managed to snap a few shots afterward, including this one of my new friend Momentous Crouton:
(I heated up a thin film of olive oil in a nonstick pan, and provided extra insurance by brushing another side of each bread cube with a bit more oil... I am not hardcore enough to brown these things evenly on all six sides, but a good bit of color on two or three sides was plenty for crunch and contrast. Addictive, believe you me.)
And the soup:
(Okay, not a fabulous pic, but a) it was delicious, and b) look at that crouton!!)
So you serve the soup, and the croutons on the side, and everyone drops however many croutons they want in the soup and they soak up the delicious paprika-y broth and are fabulous. According to the recipe, the croutons can be done 4 hours ahead, but my leftovers went 24 hours and were still delicious. They might have lasted longer... but I ate them all. Like I said. Addictive.
Chorizo Soup With Ramps
- olive oil
- 2 bunches ramps
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes
- 1 8-oz package chorizo (I used Palacios)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 6 to 8 cups of chicken broth
- 1 small loaf onion foccacia, sliced thickly and air-dried, then cubed
After washing the ramps, slice the white parts, reserving the greens. Saute the sliced ramps in olive oil until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Slice or cube chorizo, and quarter potatoes. Add chorizo, potatoes, and paprika to pot, stir, and cook a couple minutes to blend flavors, then add broth. Supplement broth with water if needed to cover. (Extra liquid is good; remember, the croutons will be soaking up some of it.)
When the soup comes to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, prepare croutons by toasting in olive oil, watching carefully and turning with tongs to brown on at least two sides. Remove to paper towels to drain excess oil, and salt while still warm.
Shortly before serving, snip ramp greens into soup and stir them in. Ta-da!
Serve up soup in individual portions, and deliver bowl of croutons alongside:
Perfect make-ahead. Perfect seasonal soup. And a complete meal when preceded by a substantial salad... for which, check back tomorrow!