Lentils with chorizo are the ultimate comfort food for those winter days when getting outside is just too daring. Discover why this traditional recipe from the northern province of Avila has succeeded through generations of Spanish families.
Trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, creating new dishes… these are some of my favourite things about cooking. I’m also a big fan of improvisation. Those days when you come back home and you’ve forgotten to do the shopping. And then the challenge of making something great out of some few basic ingredients left in the fridge.
Some other days though, I just feel like playing safe. No improvisation, no messing around. Just good comfort food. And when those days happen to me in the middle of winter, that usually means lentils with chorizo.
Lentils with chorizo are a touch with reality, a traditional and democratic peasants recipe that every Spanish family has been eating for generations. One single recipe with as many versions as grandmas there are in the country. And above all those different versions only one absolute truth… the bigger the love, the better the lentils. This is slow food at its best and love overdose is a must here.
So let’s start cooking. The choice of lentils is fundamental for this recipe. In Spain we use Pardina lentils, a small variety of green lentil original from the northern regions that works perfectly for these sort of stew recipes. If you can’t find it outside Spain, just go for small green lentils of as high quality as you can afford. And a final note, lentils do not need to be left in water for 24h before cooking them. But of course, it won’t harm if you do.
- For the lentils:
- 400 g Green lentils – ideally use Pardina variety. Alternatively any high quality small green lentil.
- 1.5 l Water
- 200 g Cooking chorizo
- 100 g Bacon
- 1 Tomato – peeled and halved
- 1 Green pepper
- 3 units Carrot – medium-sized
- 1 Potato
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 tsp Sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bone Serrano ham
- 1 Brown onion
- 4 units Clove
- For the sofrito:
- 1 Brown onion – finely chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tsp Sweet pimenton
- 4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 150 ml Water
- Peel both the carrots and the potatoes and dice them into small cubes. Slice the chorizo. Make a cut to the bottom of the garlic and another one to the tip of the green pepper. Halve the tomato. Nail the cloves in the onion. Reserve everything aside.
- Place the lentils in a strainer and wash them under the tap thoroughly. Put them in a big casserole and cover them with the water. Add the ham bone, the ‘cloved’ onion, the garlic, the green pepper, the halved tomato and the bay leaf.
- Heat the casserole over a medium heat and when the water starts bubbling, turn the heat down and add the carrots, the potato, the chorizo, the bacon and half a teaspoon of salt. Cook for around an hour or until the lentils are soft and tender. Depending on the type of lentils and the quality of the water, this might take from as little as 45 minutes to as long as 80 minutes. Keep removing the foam that forms on the surface. If you notice that the water gets consumed before the lentils are done, add some more hot water to the casserole.
- Whilst the lentils are cooking, heat some olive oil in a frying pan to make the ‘sofrito’. Add the onion and garlic, all very finely chopped. Cook over a low-to-medium heat for around 5 minutes or until the onion gets slightly browned, making sure it doesn’t get burnt.
- Take the pan off the heat and add a teaspoon of sweet pimenton. Mix everything thoroughly and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add 150 ml of water and blend it well with the help of a hand blender. Add the resulting paste to the lentils casserole and mix thoroughly.
- Continue cooking until the lentils are done and the liquid has reduced and thickened. Then remove the ham bone, the garlic, the onion, the tomato and the pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.