Sunday, October 25, 2009

Test Kitchen: Smoky Shrimp and Chorizo Soup

This month's Single Guy Test Kitchen featuring the recipes from Food and Wine Magazine was a first. There was a tie in the poll to decide which recipe to test from the magazine's October edition: 40% voted for the White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and another 40% voted for the Smoky Shrimp and Chorizo Soup. Of course, only a few voted for the dish that I really wanted to try, which was the Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde because that recipe is from Chef Seamus Mullen, whose New York restaurant Boqueria Soho I love when I was there recently and who's currently a leading contender in "The Next Iron Chef."

Anywho, I did the simple pull the recipe from the hat trick and the shrimp soup came out on top. So that's what I made recently, which turned out great for the cool fall weather we were experiencing in the Bay Area when I made the dish. (Of course, you're probably reading this now when we're experiencing a warm spell this weekend.)

The recipe was from the section of the magazine that was dedicated to wine pairings. The soup was in the section about "old world wines" and how old world wines from Italy and Spain should be paired with food from the area as they've matured together. So they suggested you pair this Spanish soup with a red Rioja wine. Easy choice.

It's been awhile I've made soup, so it was nice getting back into the soup groove. As usual, I cut the recipe in half because I'm the Single Guy and I don't need that much soup. Here's how the cooking went. You can get the full recipe from the Food and Wine Web site here.

I started out shelling and deveining the medium-size shrimp that I got from my local grocer. I kept the shell and used it to make a stock according to the recipe. But it was a simple stock where I simply infuse the shrimp shell flavor into already made chicken stock for just 10 minutes.

While my shrimp stock stewed at a low simmer, I prepped my other ingredients, including the other star, which was the chorizo. Be sure to buy the dry Spanish chorizo and not the Mexican version or fresh version, which can be too soft and mushy inside. I get my Spanish chorizo from the nearby Piedmont Grocer on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. You can also find them at the Spanish Table in Berkeley.

This recipe had very basic ingredients. Along with the shrimp and chorizo, I just needed a sweet onion, one carrot, a clove of garlic and a can of diced tomatoes.

Here's the chorizo after I've quickly browned it in a large soup pot. They look tasty to eat just like that, but I had to restrain and keep it to the side as I get working on the other ingredients.

In the same pot, I started off sweating the vegetables, starting with the onion, garlic and carrots. That sprinkling of red you see is the teaspoon of smoked paprika or pimenton, which is a basic spice for a lot of Spanish dishes. I love it. It gives off a really nice smell as you're cooking your vegetables. After the vegetables softened, after about five minutes, I add the can of tomatoes and let everything cook for another five minutes until some of the liquid from the tomatoes evaporate.

Then you start building your soup with the shrimp stock and chorizo, and finishing it off by throwing in the shrimp, which cooks really quickly. Then you add a tablespoon of flour to thicken your soup a bit, but I didn't have flour in my kitchen so I just used cornstarch, which is the Asian way to thicken soup. Same thing.

And that was it. I garnished my soup with slices of avocados, which is suggested in the recipe, and then I was ready to eat. Here's my final bowl. How do you think it looks from the Food and Wine photo above?

My tips and warnings about this recipe:

  1. Even though I halved the recipe, I didn't skimp on the pimenton. The recipe called for 1 teaspoon and that's what I added, even though I halved the other ingredients. The smoky part of the recipe comes from the smoked pimenton, and I felt it could have needed more smokiness. So you could add more if you like, I feel. (Maybe 2 teaspoons.)
  2. If you want to make this a hearty soup, especially for dinner or leftovers, add some cooked white rice.
  3. The recipe says to cut the carrot into thin matchsticks. But I felt it was weird eating soup with carrot sticks, so I would have liked to pureed the onions and carrots before adding the chorizo and shrimp, so the soup would be more smooth. But it's up to you want kind of texture you like when you're drinking your soup.
Ease of cooking: This was another super simple soup recipe. Soup is always so easy to make. And it was quick, so I think anyone can do it. It makes a nice quick weeknight dinner.

Taste: I really liked the flavor of the soup when everything was said and done. The slight smokiness from the pimenton was really overpowered more by the chorizo, which like any meat ingredient dominates the dish. But since I love chorizo, I didn't mind. Plus, the meatiness of the tomatoes was a nice support for the chorizo. And there were a lot of shrimp in the soup, and I love shrimp, so again, it just had all the flavors that I love. Good job.

Overall Grade: A for easy to find ingredients, simple steps and full body flavor.

Don't forget to vote in my latest poll on the upper right corner. It's the Thanksgiving edition of Food and Wine. (BTW, aren't you glad I didn't start with Gourmet magazine? Because this feature would be dead by now.)

Previous test kitchens:
Rabbit Ragout with Soppressata and Pappardelle
Puff-pastry Tomato Tarts
Bucatini Carbonara
Mini Corn Cakes with Seared Salmon


Jenster said...

I'm impressed by how few ingredients it takes to make this soup! I'll have to try it myself soon.

I thought your photo looked really delicious, despite the fact that you were your own food stylist and photographer!

Jacqueline said...

I love to eat anything with avocado!

foodhoe said...

I like those ingredients! your soup looks lighter bodied than the magazine version, which appeals to me.

Kim said...

I think your photo is MUCH better than theirs! Really. I'm also going to try this soup. Do you think it would work without the chorizo?

Hungry Dog said...

Your photo is better! I want to try this soup. It sounds so flavorful. I'm with you on the carrots--matchstick carrots in a soup seems bizarre.

Single Guy Ben said...

Kim, I think the chorizo totally dominates the soup, so it might be interesting to see what it's like without it. You might get more an appreciation of the smokey pimenton and the shrimp. Try it and let me know!

Nate-n-Annie said...

That's a great soup! I'd have kept the full amount of chorizo and snacked on half of it while the other half cooked.

Palidor said...

That looks really tasty and hearty with the chorizo and shrimp.

3 hungry tummies said...

oh that looks good! i recently made a chorizo soup too. have a look

Mrs. L said...

I like the sound of all the ingredients in this soup. Thanks for doing all the research before I try it!