Remember back when I said we'd been having a mild winter, and how we had broken a record for lack of snowfall? Well, here we are in March now, and winter is now in full swing. In the last month, we've had enough snow that we are within a couple inches of the 30-inch average for Chicago for any given winter season. We still got all our snow, it just came late, and all at once!
In fact, today we are experiencing yet another bout of snow, and the forecasts are predicting it will be the biggest storm of the season. Flights were cancelled, schools were closed, and employers sent their staff home early. Actually, Justin's office closed early, but my intrepid boss was determined to achieve maximum productivity for the day, so we were not released ahead of schedule.
Since he was home so much earlier, Justin got a head start on dinner, so that I could come in from the cold and have a piping hot bowl of soup waiting for me. I had planned for a Spanish lentil soup for this evening, from a recipe I spotted in the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated. Normally, I don't attempt to make a recipe so soon after I see it in that particular publication, either because it is too labor intensive or it calls for an ingredient that is too hard to find. In fact, this little video is probably the most accurate description I've ever seen of Cook's Illustrated:
However, this particular dish seemed so manageable, I thought it could even be tackled on a work night. French lentils can be hard to find, but I actually had a surplus in my pantry, after inadvertently buying too many at Whole Foods, thinking I was running low when I was actually fully-stocked. And although Spanish chorizo is surprisingly difficult to find in Chicago, despite its trendiness, I remembered seeing it at Publican Quality Meats during one of my previous visits, so entering this soup into our meal plan would give me an excuse to treat myself to lunch. It seemed like a win-win.
Justin didn't seem to have any trouble with the recipe, other than that the grease from the chorizo created a somewhat unfortunate oil slick on top of the broth. We were also short a carrot, but it didn't seem to affect the taste noticeably.
In fact, the soup turned out very well indeed. It was spicier than I was expecting, which I can probably attribute to either the PQM chorizo, or the smoked paprika I was able to find at the grocery store, which didn't state it's strength on the bottle. Either way, the kick was an unanticipated bonus.
I actually think I liked this lentil soup more than the one we made back in January, and I though that one had become my new go- to recipe at the time. Perhaps my enjoyment of this soup is a testament to the importance of high quality ingredients, after all, that chorizo set me back about $9 per pound, and the recipe called for a pound and a half worth. I usually pay less than a third of that price for Italian sausage at the local mega-mart, but it has never made such a memorable impact on a dish I've made either.
Due to the expense, I'm not sure this dish will become a standard in our home, even though it was simple and relatively quick to make. I'll definitely keep in mind for a special occasion, however, or if we are entertaining guests for dinner. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to share this recipe with you because Cook's Illustrated has a vigorous legal team out there protecting their intellectual property. If you are interested in trying this one at home, you'll have to run out to the nearest newsstand and buy yourself a hard copy while they are still on shelves...