Archive for October 25th, 2009

I demand a do-over on October. Now.


The colors are woefully gorgeous. Woeful it is, as the glorious October sunshine that tends to set them off to perfection, causing my jaw to drop in awe has been conspicuously absent, leaving the bright yellow maples and dark red oak trees to show off their glory in nothing more than rain-drenched light. Halloween is bearing down on us, and I have only fleeting images in my mind of how beautiful this month can be in Minnesota. Soon comes November, dreary November and then all the holiday junk and then……well, there’s just winter after that. I need my October to set my mind right before taking that plunge. I need piles of crisp dry leaves to kick through, another sorely missed option of this fleeting month. All the leaves have been far too soggy to play with, and certainly not desirable for your shoes.

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There is some kind of somber romantic beauty caught up in the fog, the burnished colors trying their best to break through the unbroken and gray light. And amongst that backdrop of drab this October, I have craved all manners of comfort through steaming bowls of soup. Fall is perfect for soup, with or without expected weather habits, and the kicky Chorizo and Black Bean recipe here is good for warming the tummy, and chasing away thoughts of the impending gloomy November. Remind me that I need to stock up on candles.

It’s also one of those recipes that sent me to three stores to find a good quality dry-aged chorizo to use in this recipe. Do you ever do anything like that? I kind of like darting into a store and buying one thing, for some reason. Maybe because I do it so often. I do highly recommend using that type, usually in a casing and referred to as Spanish chorizo, as opposed to the loose ground kind. While you likely will get good flavor from both, the dry-aged variety is so agreeably piquant, giving it a better flavor profile. This soup came together as an amalgam of two separate recipes, each stellar in their own right. I couldn’t choose which one to make, so I took the best of both of them and made something new and fabulous.

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Ahhhh hearty soup, warm and satisfying. This was excellent; chock full of good vegetables and beans, chunks of seared sausage and a nice dollop of sour cream to smooth out the heat. It was a land mine of flavor and texture for the eye and the belly. I served it with these yummy cornbread croutons, an outrageously good idea I had recently to use up some leftover cornbread in a different way.

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These snappy little squares are perfect with soup or stew, a delicious tasty extra with amazing toothsome bite. Take your prepared cornbread pieces and cut them into thin slices, no more than 1/4 – 1/2″ thick. Place the slices on parchment covered cookie sheets in a 325° oven and bake them until they are crisped and golden brown, turning once or twice while they bake. This could take about 45 minutes to an hour. You can cook them in a higher oven; they tend to not dry out as completely as a slower temperature but the outcome is completely subjective. Save some to crumble over a salad for a nice touch of crunch. That is, if you can keep yourself from eating them all.

Chorizo and Black Bean Soup
By Kate

This soup comes together pretty quickly, but like many, it will develop deeper flavor after a day, or even more. Adjust the amount of water for the thickness you prefer. The broth is thin, and can be thickened in any manner you prefer if you wish.

3 links Spanish chorizo, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can diced tomato, fire roasted if you can find them
1 c. whole kernel corn
2 t. chipotle pepper in adobo (I run the whole peppers through the food processor to make them easier to use- chop a whole one, or more to taste. You can sub ground cayenne pepper to your liking, or dried chili of choice.)
1 t. dried oregano
1-2 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In your soup pot, warm oil of choice over medium heat and cook onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the chorizo and cook until the pieces are seared and slightly browned. Stir in about a quart of water and gently scrape the fond off the pan. Add in the chipotle, tomato, corn and black beans, and more water to the consistency you prefer. Stir in the cumin and oregano and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

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