It is already April, and Spring, well she has really been struggling to emerge here in New York City. There are occasional glimpses of her brilliance and it is actually quite gorgeous today. But somehow my mind is still occupied by comforting soups to chase away the last bits of winter.
If you have never eaten/cooked with chorizo, it is an ingredient worth getting friendly with. This extremely versatile sausage plays a key role in traditional Spanish, Portuguese, and Mexican cuisine. While the flavors certainly pack a punch, they are clean enough that they lend themselves to use in all sorts of dishes. The Spanish variety is typically a pork sausage flavored with heady smoked paprika, pimentón. It is usually fully or semi-cured and keeps very well. I almost always have it on hand to add to dishes for that extra oomph.
In this recipe the roasted sweet potato and leek, along with the smoky chorizo and earthy sage result in a potato and leek soup that is so much more fun. The addition of dry fino sherry, another wonderful ingredient from the Spanish, brings everything together to create a soup that you will definitely want to snuggle up with. I used a semi-cured chorizo, but if you can only find fully cured that should work as well. Just make sure it is Spanish. It will be harder to crumble but a knife or food processor should help you along. My taste tester for everything, TK, who isn’t a big fan of sweet potato loved it so much that he ate himself into a food coma. The ultimate endorsement, I think.
R O A S T E D S W E E T P O T A T O + L E E K S O U P W I T H C H O R I Z O
2 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 4 cups), cut into large even-sized chunks
3 teaspoons salt
1 leek, split down the middle and divided into 2-3 inch sections
2 links of semi-cured Spanish chorizo
1 cup dry sherry, such as fino
1 medium yellow onion (approx. 2 cups), diced
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons pimentón
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 ribs of celery (approx. 1 cup), diced
2 large carrots (approx. 1 cup), diced
3 1/2 cups of water
3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
crème fraîche, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato with 1 1/2 tsp salt and enough grapeseed oil to cover thinly, mix well. Spread your potatoes evenly on a baking sheet, making sure to not crowd. Depending on the size of the baking sheet, this may require two batches. Roast in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. The potatoes are done when they are golden and slightly crusty. If you have room in your oven, roast the leeks at the same time by gently tossing them with 1/2 tsp of salt and a thin layer of grapeseed oil. Evenly lay them out on a smaller baking sheet and roast for around 20 minutes, turning halfway through the time.
While the vegetables are happily cooking in the oven, remove the chorizo from its casings and crumble. Using a medium-sized pot, over medium-high heat brown the meat in a thin layer of grapeseed oil. When the chorizo is almost fully browned, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the sherry. Allow the wine to completely cook out and then transfer the meat to a bowl. Set aside.
To the same pot, add a bit more oil as well as the onions and garlic; cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions are just starting to look translucent, push them to the side and lightly fry the sage leaves, pimentón, and cayenne pepper for a minute. Now add the celery and carrots and cook until slightly softened. Deglaze and deepen the flavor of the vegetables, spices, and herbs by adding the rest of sherry, make sure to scrape all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook over medium heat until the liquid has completely evaporated and no longer has the smell of alcohol. Add your roasted vegetables and 3 cups of water. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor blitz until smooth. Return to pot and cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat. If too thick, add in the last half cup of water. Turn off the stove and stir in the sherry vinegar.
Serve with a generous dollop of crème fraîche and the crumbled chorizo.