The day I went to Whole Foods to buy the quinoa for my Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Dried Apricots, I was passing by the meat department and noticed some samples sitting up on the counter. I cannot resist samples, so I helped myself to a little red-hued meatball with a toothpick sticking out the top. I took a bite as I started walking off and was stopped dead in my tracks. It was so amazing I turned right around, and after looking around to see if anyone was watching, snagged another meatball. I had to buy some of this what-ever-it-was, so with the appearance of the guy behind the counter, I asked what it was and where I could find it.
He said it was Mulay’s Chorizo, and lucky for me, he had only one package left, which was back in his walk-in frig. I have had chorizo in the past, but the kind in a casing, I think it was Spanish, and the bulk from Bristol Farms, which really didn’t do that much for me. The ingredients on the Mulay’s label are pork, water, salt, paprika, spices & garlic powder. It wasn’t over the top spicy, just enough to make you want to eat this stuff every day for the rest of your life. So if you are a chorizo aficionado you will want to try this. If it isn’t available in your neighborhood, you can mail order it from Mulay’s. It’s a family owned company and their website is quite interesting, where you can find a lot more recipes using chorizo and other sausages. I also like the idea that they use pork raised without antibiotics ever, no added hormones, vegetarian fed, no nitrates, MSG, preservatives, sugar or soy. Well, don’t I sound like an advertisement. LOL.
So I went home and had to figure out what to make with this chorizo gold I had discovered. I decided on White Bean Soup, and I’m glad I did. The chorizo flavored the broth with its spicy smoky flavor and made me really happy. I made a big pot and froze it in serving-size containers, so each time I made it I experimented with toppings. I tried grated mozzarella with a sprinkle of minced Italian parsley, which was good. But the dollops of salty, crumbly Queso Fresco cheese with minced cilantro and basil sprinkled over the top was the best. If you don’t have Queso Fresco, you could use a dollop of ricotta sprinkled liberally with kosher salt and ground black pepper. I think you could add shrimp or leftover fish broken into pieces. Have fun. Get creative.
Chorizo & White Bean Soup
1 package dry white beans (about 2 cups)
8 ounces ground chorizo sausage
8 ounces onion, ¼-inch dice (1 small)
1 large carrot, ¼-inch dice
1 large celery rib, ¼-inch dice
1 cup water
4 14-ounce cans chicken broth, low sodium
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
2 Turkish bay leaves (if you don’t have Turkish, leave them out)
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Queso Fresco cheese (I used Ranchero brand)
Optional: cherry tomatoes, quartered, and a drizzle of olive oil
1. Place the dry beans in a large pot and cover with water 3 inches above beans. Soak over night or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly before using.
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the chorizo without browning, breaking it up into little pieces.
3. Push the chorizo to the side of the pot and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the onion is translucent but not browned.
4. Add the 1 cup water, chicken broth, diced tomatoes with their juice, bay leaves, parsley and the drained white beans. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer (barely boiling) for 1 hour, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Skim off any froth that accumulates on the surface.
5. Add 1½ cups water, bring back to a simmer and cook for 1 more hour, until the beans are soft. Continue to stir occasionally.
6. If the beans are not done, add ½ cup more water and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
7. When the beans are done to your satisfaction, adjust the level of liquid and add up to ½ cup more water. Adjust the seasoning with kosher salt and pepper.
8. To serve, ladle soup into warm soup bowls and top with dollops of Queso Fresco cheese and minced herbs.
Note: If you freeze it in serving-size containers, add ¼ – 1/3 cup water or chicken broth per serving when reheating in the microwave.