Sunday, November 23, 2014

Craving soup! Hallie's minestrone with chorizo and Thai basil

HALLIE EPHRON: In the cold, a body craves soup. And though Boston's "cold" hasn't held a sputtering candle to the cold you all in the middle of the country have had over the last week or so, I've hauled out my fingerless gloves and cozy shawl and furry slippers, fired up the space heater, and started making soups.

First up, minestrone with white kidney beans and orzo and chorizo. Topped with handfuls of chopped Thai basil. I'd had Thai basil with the Phos we can get at any of our local Vietnamese restaurants.  It turned out to be spicier and even more fragrant than Italian basil, exquisite in this soup.

My "recipe," such as it is, was based on what was in the kitchen.

(Generously serves 6 for dinner)

2 T olive oil
1 package (about 3/4 lb) of chorizo (Portuguese sausage - you can find it in the supermarket near the Kielbasa) cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks of celery (with the tops) chopped
1 can of large white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large (~35 ounce) can of peeled WHOLE Italian tomatoes, cut up into pieces, along with whatever juice etc. is in the can with them
About 1/4 cup of uncooked orzo
4 cups of vegetable or beef (or mixed) broth

For topping:
Chopped Thai basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Do all the chopping and cutting up beforehand.
2. Over medium heat, sautee the chorizo in a large (~4 qt) pot until it's browned. Remove the chorizo from the pot and set aside. Leave all the brown bits and fat in the pot.
3. Add about 1/2 cup of broth to the hot pan, and as it bubbles, scrape up all the lovely brown bits so they're no longer sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
4. Add chopped onion and carrot and celery to the scraped-up bits and cook until the onions are translucent.
5. Add tomatoes and juices from the tomato can and the rest of the broth to the pot; cook for about 45 minutes.
6. Return the chorizo to the soup along with uncooked orzo and drained kidney beans. Cook until the orzo is just done.
7. If it's too thick, add water.
8. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped Thai basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with crusty French bread.


  1. yum yum yum! Thank you, Hallie!

    We are big soup fans, and I'm always looking for new recipes to add to the recipe file.

    Neither of us are fans of beans in our soup or chili, so no white kidney beans, but I'm going to start my search for some Thai basil.

  2. Wow--this is so adventurous! You are SUCH great cook...

  3. Soundslike an interesting recipe.

    I make chicken soup with mushrooms, barley and lima beans all winter to warm up the house (and me).

    My latest passion is Middle Eastern chicken broth-- add finely chopped garlic, finely chopped fresh ginger, and (if you want) some red pepper flakes to reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth (on sale a lot of places this week because of Thanksgiving). Simmer and sip. Warms you inside and out and if you're congested, this will break it up. In the alternative, I buy carry-out hot-and-sour soup at the local Chinese restaurant.

  4. Sounds a little too spicy for me, but I think Hubby would love it. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Glad the Thai basil worked out for you.

  5. Hallie, I love white beans in anything, and had been thinking about making minestrone with white beans. Yum! I hadn't considered chorizo, though, so will add that to the list.

    This week I'm contemplating potato leek soup. Seems a nice counterpoint to all the rich Thanksgiving stuff.

  6. Just in from Church to find this wonderful recipe posted here . . . soups make such great winter meals.
    Although I make most of the soups we enjoy, John regularly makes bean soup [the more kinds the better . . . I think the most we've had is fifteen different beans] with chorizo.
    We had Thai basil in the herb garden this year and enjoyed its spiciness . . . .

  7. Ellen, sounds delicious
    Debs, potato leek soup, my favorite!

    You can make your own hot and sour soup. Esp if you have Chinese food stores around and can get dried black mushrooms and dried lily buds (aka golden needles). I find takeout it can vary between really good to really awful... from the same place.

  8. Soups are just the best in cold weather. Hallie, your minestrone recipe sounds very tasty indeed, and you've given us the recipe with such clear instructions. Of course, I think it would still taste best if I had a slurp of yours.

    My favorite homemade soup is the old standby, vegetable soup. I like to use all fresh ingredients, so it's especially satisfying to eat and be proud of. I know that some of my friends say thy use something like Veg-All (not sure that's the right name) that contains all the vegetables they want in one can. I just can't bring myself to do that to my mother's vegetable soup.

    And I adore potato soup, but I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't made it from scratch. Besides, my favorite restaurant in town makes a potato soup to die for, so I usually bring some home with me from there.

    Chili is something that I still make, but it's usually when my husband is home, as it's one of his favorites. The ingredient I like the best in the chili is the green peppers, and I try to get at least one piece of that with every bite.

    So, Hallie, you have made me hungry for soup as I sit here on a rainy, but thankfully not cold, Sunday. I wish I had time to make some before Thanksgiving, but it will have to wait. Thanks for a yummy post today.

  9. Soup IS good food. I've been reading a book called NOURISHING BROTH by Sally Fallon Morrell about how good bone soup is for a body. This is to prepare: I plan to start a nine-month, healthy-only food plan on December 1st featuring bone soup as the focus. My 30th high school reunion is this summer and I plan to look and be healthy.

  10. PK - grand goal! "Healthy food only." Thinking about what I'd have to stop eating. Is wine considered "healthy"?

  11. HALLIE, that sounds yummy, thanks for sharing.

    I use Bush's Great Northern Beans in any recipe that calls for bean - rinse, rinse, rinse....great in chili, soup, calico beans Yumm

    I'm always looking for new soup recipes


    I lost mine and haven't found one I like :(

  12. Mar,
    Here's a spinach soup recipe that we enjoy:

    Cream of Spinach Soup

    One pound spinach, washed, stems removed, coarsely chopped
    Three bunches scallions or one medium sweet onion or two medium-sized leeks, chopped
    One potato, peeled and diced
    Three cups vegetable stock [chicken stock can be substituted]
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    Salt and pepper to taste
    One cup heavy cream [light cream can be substituted, if desired]

    In large saucepan, combine spinach, scallions, potato, and vegetable stock, bring to a boil.
    Lower heat; cook gently, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about twelve minutes.
    Remove from heat; season with nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Use a stick blender to puree the vegetables.

    Add cream, heat through, stirring occasionally.

    Correct the seasoning and serve.

  13. Hallie - the healthy food plan is based on the paleo eating plan. Basically no processed food, pretty much high quality meat, veggies, fruit, etc. But I also believe success comes in not being extremely strict -- 80/20 is usually the way to go to allow for real life and to make it more fun. I'm hoping for 90/10. So, yes, I think wine would be ok sometimes. :)