But when it is bitter cold, I just can’t help it. In addition to warming me up, soups are pretty inexpensive – so I can have plenty to spend on bourbon, should I have to brave the weather.
This whole pot cost about $10, and that was only because I used good ingredients – organic [albeit canned] beans and tomatoes and chorizo from the Hawthorne Valley Farm that I picked up at the farmer’s market.
The chorizo has so much flavor on it’s own – meaty and smoky and spicy – that the soup doesn’t really need to do any work. And because I wanted it all a bit thicker without taking the time for it to condense down, I whisked in a handful of grits, which in also ended up adding a subtle bite (texture, not heat obviously).
It tasted so homey and familiar (familiar if you grow up in California and chorizo and black beans are a staple) and was the perfect meal to wait out the storm that never came.
A quick note about the chorizo – I used the fresh version and browned it whole first (in the casing) and then chopped it later, to keep bigger chunks. Sometimes chorizo breaks down a bit when removed from the casing, and I really wanted to be able to to have the larger bites. Next time, I may try it the other way – what do you think – in the casings or out?
What is your favorite food when waiting to see the sun again?
2/3 lb. fresh chorizo 1-2 T. olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced 2 T. chili powder 2 t. ground cumin ¼ – ½ t. cayenne pepper (depending on the heat of your chorizo and/or preference) 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes with juice, crushed or diced water 1 (16 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained ¼ c. coarse ground cornmeal** kosher salt freshly ground pepper
sour cream (optional, for serving) lime (optional, for serving)
In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, brown the chorizo. Remove from pot to a plate, set aside.
Add oil to the pot (to equal 2 T. – if the chorizo gave off fat, use less oil), and then add the onions. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until onions begin to soften. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne and garlic; stir to combine and cook for another minute.
Add tomatoes and their juice and use the can to add water to the pot as well (28 oz. water); bring the bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt to taste (your tomatoes may or may not need salt, so that is why no salt is added to the onions). Once the tomatoes and water have simmered for a few minutes, whisk in the cornmeal. Continue whisking occasionally so the bits of cornmeal stay suspended in the soup. If they clump together, just keep whisking until they separate – the ratio of cornmeal to liquid is very small, so it will cook rather quickly and not act as grits or polenta in a traditional sense.
After about 4-5 minutes, chop the chorizo into bite size pieces, and add it and its juices back into the soup to finish cooking. After another minute, add the beans and let it all simmer together for another few minutes, for the flavors to really mingle. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with sour cream (or yogurt) and lime.
** I used the coarse ground corn meal that I also use for grits or polenta. To give it a slightly finer grind and speed up the cooking, I gave it a quick whirl in a food processor. You could easily omit this step, particularly if you keep on hand a medium grind meal.