My inspiration for this soup came from a memorable meal at Restaurante Taxidermista in the Barrí Gótic in Barcelona. It is a stunning setting for a restaurant, which straddles one side of the Placa Reial in the old quarter.
It was a light pumpkin soup – almost a velouté really, but prior to serving, the waitress patiently assembled an assortment of delights in the base of my soup plate – braised shitake mushrooms, home made ravioli and some dainty triangles of roasted pumpkin. The resultant feast was a meal in a bowl, and I was hard pushed to get through my next course.
It spawned an idea that to “big” a soup up, it can become an entire, nourishing meal – I have poached chicken and braised whole cabbage leaves and served it with a lightly flavoured chicken broth, and I have simply added rice or pasta into the bowl of a soup I am serving.
The combinations are endless and are all well received.
I would advise one word of caution though: Your soup does need to be light and quite thin, as you will end up with too much going on in the bowl. Avoid cream unless you fancy a last minute swirl at the end for good looks – the same goes for any dairy – cheese, yoghurt, and the like.
Through fear of sounding pretentious, I would advise you to “de-construct” your favourite soup, limit it to key ingredients for the liquid, and then incorporate the other ingredients as a garnish for maximum taste and presentation.
So, after the build up, here’s the recipe:
2KG OF ASSORTED ONIONS
2 HEADS OF GARLIC
1 LITRE OF CHICKEN STOCK
SALT AND PEPPER (NO SALT IF IT IS A COMMERCIAL STOCK BASE OR CUBE)
2 TABLESPOONS OF FRUITY OLIVE OIL.
SOME CHOPPED FRESH HERBS – PARSLEY OR WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO HAND (I used tarragon as it accentuates the onion’s sweetness).
HALF A CIRCLE OF CHORIZO SAUSAGE – DULCE OR PICANTE – SLICED THINLY AND GENTLY FRIED FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS ON EACH SIDE.
ONE REASONABLE SIZED POTATO PER SERVING (this will serve 4 easily with seconds for the hungry) – COOKED WHOLE AND THEN PEELED. (If you can’t be bothered, cook as normal, but keep the pieces intact – you don’t want mush or mash)
HALF A CUP OF LENTILS(NOT RED), SOAKED AND COOKED UNTIL TENDER
1. Bake the onions and the garlic, whole and unpeeled, in a hot oven – 200 degrees c for about an hour – less if the onions are small.
2. Allow the onions and garlic to cool slightly, then squeeze the contents of each bulb out into a bowl. this is easier if you snip the top off the onions with a scissors and peel off the outer papery layer of the garlic
3. Blend with a hand blender or pop in the food processor and blend until smooth with the warm stock and olive oil.
4. Season to taste.
5. Add chopped fresh herbs.
Place some of the potatoes, cut into hearty chunks, the lentils and pieces of chorizo in the centre of a soup plate.
Sprinkle with some of the fresh herbs.
Pour over the soup mixture and serve with some good crusty bread.