People ask me all the time what my favorite thing to cook is. Once they find out that I’m a food blogger, it’s one of the first questions I get. For a long time, I didn’t know how to answer. Having a favorite thing to eat is one thing, but a favorite thing to cook? Do people have just one favorite dish to prepare? What if my favorite thing to cook changes weekly?
After years of thought, I have an answer: soup. Making soup is methodical and creative and easy. There’s something ritualistic and comforting about preparing it. It almost always starts with the same few steps – chopping an onion and sauteing it in olive oil, peeling and dicing vegetables, pulling out my favorite spices and flavorings. But from there, soup allows infinite creative possibilities. If I’m feeling healthy I’ll make a soup of lentils and vegetables and wholesome broth. For particularly cold days, a chili with lots of meat and beans and plenty of cheddar cheese is my go-to. Pureed vegetable bisques are elegant and great with fresh bread, and when I’m sick nothing but homemade chicken broth with egg noodles will do. I rarely use recipes, and the result is almost always good. And so, soup is my favorite thing to cook.
I’ll eat soup at any time of year, but it appears on our table most frequently during the winter months. From December until March you’ll find me making homemade chicken broth on the weekends, then experimenting with different soup recipes during the week. My most recent experiment resulted in a soup I loved so much that I immediately recreated it to share with you. It’s a Spicy Chorizo Soup with Italian Couscous, made with fresh Mexican-style chorizo sausage, white beans and carrots and fennel seeds. But the real secret to this soup is a spoonful or two of mole sauce stirred into the soup just at the end. The mole gives the soup a little more heat and a lot more flavor – a bit of sweetness, some chocolatey notes, and a little nuttiness.
I just happened to have extra mole sauce in my freezer after making this Mole-Roasted Chicken, but I know that’s not a particularly common ingredient to have laying around. If you don’t have any, substitute another spicy chile paste, preferably one with some sweetness and depth of flavor. I think harissa would work well. Get ready to feel warm inside and out after a bowl or two of this!
Craving more soup recipes? Here are a few favorites:
Spicy Chorizo Soup with Italian Couscous and Mole Sauce
A Katie at the Kitchen Door original recipe.
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1/2 lb fresh Mexican-style chorizo sausage
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3/4 cup Italian couscous
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch round slices
- 1 cup cooked cannelini beans
- 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 TBS plus 1 tsp cheater’s mole sauce or other spicy chile paste
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the fresh chorizo to the oil, removing the meat from its casings by squeezing it out with your hands into the pot. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into small pieces. Cook until the chorizo is browned all over, about 6-8 minutes, then add the onion and fennel seeds. Saute, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the couscous to the pot and stir to coat with the oil and chorizo juices. Toast in the oil for 1-2 minutes, stirring, then add the carrots, cannelini beans, and chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Just before serving, stir in the mole sauce or spicy chile paste. Taste and add more chile paste if desired. Serve immediately.