Published March 1, 2013.
To achieve authentically deep, complex flavor in this hearty soup, we had to turn down the flame.
In our adaptation of traditional sopa de lentijas con chorizo (lentil and chorizo soup), we found that French green lentilles du Puy were the best stand-in, texture-wise, for the harder-to-find lentejas pardinas from Spain. However, the “meat” of a lentil swells as it cooks, all too easily slipping out of its shell (which is called a blowout) and creating a mushy, split pea soup–like texture.
A brothy and creamy soup with a rich, robust taste and intact lentils.
We brined the lentils (using boiling water cut the soaking time to 30 minutes) before sweating them with the salt and vinegar. Now each and every bean emerged fully intact and beautifully creamy.
To keep the chorizo links as moist as possible, we left them whole and browned them in olive oil, transferred them to a plate while we sweated the lentils, and then plopped them back into the pot along with the water to simmer (we would cut them into bite-size pieces toward the end of cooking). Prepared this way, the chorizo cooked up with a dense, juicy texture.
The soup still needed more depth though, so we sweated the vegetables to develop a distinctive yet subtle flavor. We also consulted Indian cookbooks and found that a way to add depth was also to add a tarka, a mixture of spices and finely minced aromatics (garlic and onions) quickly bloomed in oil. We made a tarka of Spanish spices and drizzled it into the broth for a few more minutes of simmering. We also stirred some flour into the oil in the tarka to make a sort of roux to add texture, finding that just 1 tablespoon was enough to develop the signature spoon-coating consistency. We’d hit the jackpot with our multicultural approach. The soup had a lush consistency, not to mention tons of flavor: sweet, savory, and smoky, with a hint of acidity.list of recipes