Our blistering South Florida summer heat is setting in and sadly, our spring crops are wilting. So I needed a way to use some of our kale that had to be harvested before we lose it. Since I love butternut squash soup (who doesn’t??), and know that kale and chorizo combine well, this seemed like a perfect thing to put together.
I didn’t have quite enough squash and wasn’t sure how it would combine with sweet potato; it actually added extra thickness and a depth of flavor, so this combo is a definite keeper (of course you can just use squash). I also used both lacinato (aka dinosaur or black kale) and curly kale as that’s what was on hand and it worked very well. Before I add kale to a recipe, I steam or parboil it first for a few minutes to remove its bitterness – then it has a neutral to sweet flavor.
We are very lucky to have an artisan pork shop near us, where I can get the best chorizo around – uncooked, and so tasty! The heat in it is pretty mild, so I realized the next time around I would add some red pepper flakes or a medium-heat pepper to the mix. Also, despite what many recipes say, I never add chorizo at the beginning of a dish where it is going to be boiled for a while – I’ve done this in the past and it leaves the chorizo dry and flavorless. So as you’ll see in the directions I add a tiny bit at the start, then brown the chorizo separately and add it near the end (with its wonderful oily rendered liquid) for maximum flavor and texture.
I wanted to make this a creamy soup yet still have the contrast in color between the starches and the kale, and to retain the nice bits of meat from the chorizo to bite into. So I decided to blend the squash/potato/onion mixture first, and then add the kale and chorizo. This turned out to be such a rich and creamy soup packed with nutrition and flavor – resulting in a unanimous and enthusiastic seal of approval from my family!
Adapted from Lindaraxa.
Wash the kale leaves and remove stems. Parboil (2 mins) or steam (4 mins) kale leaves, run under cool water, drain and allow to cool. Chop kale into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pan over low heat, then add butter to melt. Add the onions and jalapeno or pepper flakes (unless chorizo will provide enough heat). Saute until onions are soft.
Add coriander seeds and saute a few minutes until fragrant. Add ¼ cup of finely chopped chorizo and stir to combine (mixture should turn a slightly red color). Add garlic and cook for one minute.
Increase heat to medium, and add butternut squash (and sweet potato chunks if using) and saute for 5 minutes with the onions.
Add enough chicken stock to fully cover vegetables, along with the herbs. Cook on low heat until veggies are tender.
Turn off heat and cool to room temperature. ONLY when soup is cooled, using a regular or immersion blender, blend soup until creamy. CAUTION: When using a regular blender, do very small batches even with room temperature soup only (or cooler) and hold the top on securely, to avoid it popping off and you getting burned.
While the soup is cooling, saute the chorizo in a separate frying pan over medium heat until just browned; don’t overcook it. Use the edge of a spatula to break the chorizo into smaller chunks. Set this aside and don’t remove the juice/oil that the chorizo is sitting in!
Return blended soup to medium heat and add kale, cooked chorizo and half of the rendered chorizo-liquid (reserve the rest). Lower heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add more of the chorizo-liquid to suit your taste (save a little for garnish). Don’t be afraid of a little oil - it will add flavor! Add sherry and simmer for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Turn off heat and stir in handful of chopped cilantro. Serve soup garnished with a few whole cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of remaining chorizo oil if desired.
Writing and Photo by DK