Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Spanish recipe: Sopa de fideos (Pasta soup)

Fideos Gallo no. 0 in the UK, England, London, Cambridge
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I have been meaning to write this post for a while as I would like to start a surreptitious campaign to bring fideos to the UK. Fideos can be defined as extremely short and thin spaghetti (well, the ones I like are thin). You can make lovely soups with them and one hugely popular soup is the Spanish recipe this post is for: sopa de fideos (pasta soup).

This is a really simple recipe, in fact if you have good homemade chicken or vegetable stock at home you can just add the fideos and, within five minutes, you could be ready to sit down to steaming hot comforting soup, spoon in hand. My mother always has stock in the fridge or in the freezer precisely for this purpose.

It should always be cooked the moment you want to eat, that's when it tastes best and it takes so little time to prepare that it is totally feasible. This is the soup you eat when you're cold and need warming up, when you don't feel so well, when you need cheering up... Ok, by you I mean me but let me tell you, that cup of tea that the British fix everything with...this is my Spanish-style cup of tea. And, yes, being me it includes chorizo (you didn't expect anything else, did you?).

Now, I like my pasta soups to be very thick, without too much liquid (otherwise I call them consommés and I'm done with it), so make sure you adapt it to your taste (don't panic, it's easy to do). Fideos are designed for soups so they get soak in the stock in a delicious way.

If you're vegetarian, ditch the chorizo, use your favourite stock and you're sorted. I promise you it will still be lovely.

Fideos Gallo no. 0. in the UK, London, England
What I like to see in my cupboard
Fideos are not easy to find in the UK. In Tesco you can find Lubella Filini no. 2 (a Polish brand), but they're number 2 (hence much thicker and they don't soak in the lovely flavours like my absolute favourite: Gallo no. 0 (it has to be, it's the only fideo brand I've been able to find in the UK, there are other brands in Spain of course). You can find the Gallo brand in the Spanish London supermarket R Garcia and Sons (you can order online or pop in for a visit). I'm pretty sure my husband has bought them from the La Plaza Deli in Portobello too. Of course, try any local Spanish shops or market stalls you may pass on your travels and, should you see a Portuguese shop, ask for their pasta soup range, even if they don't have fideos, you will find tiny pasta dots, stars or teardrops that tend to be really good and work rather well.

Substitutes: De Cecco Stellette nº75 (I've seen them in Waitrose), Orzo pasta (I get it from Waitrose and I have seen it in selected Tescos), Tesco's Farfalline, Lubella's Filini. You could also break vermicelli into short length cut-at-home fideos.

Sopa de fideos a la Feisty Tapas

  • 1 litre of stock or however much you fancy having (I have to warn you that it is addictive so you will be going back for more).
  • 1 chicken stock cube if using water (I use Kallo), depending on the amount of water you may need more or less stock.
  • 250 g approx of fideos or substitute pasta (how I calculate is by checking the resistance of the pasta against the wooden spoon when stirring straight after adding them, if there's a bit of resistance, that's about right, if it stirs too easily, it needs more).
  • 1 carrot (quartered lengthways and then sliced not too finely and not too thickly so that it cooks quickly). 
  • 25-50 g chorizo, peeled and "pierced" a couple of times with a fork (I tend to use either half a sausage or a whole one) peeled and  (as you may know from previous posts I tend to use Tesco's Cooking Chorizo nowadays, I should tell them that, shouldn't I? That failing, get the Revilla's Chorizo de Pueblo. If you're really lucky ask your local Spanish shop/stockist/market stall).

1 medium pan, 1 chopping board for vegetables, one chopping board for hot food

  1. Place the water in a medium pan, when it's boiling add the chicken stock and carrots. Let it bubble away.
  2. After a couple of minutes add the chorizo.
  3. When the carrots start feeling tender (it will only take a few minutes), add the fideos or pasta soup. Follow the pack instructions. If using number 0 fideos, try not to let them overcook, they are best al dente. Make sure you stir once in a while.
  4. If using fideos remove the chorizo and, with the help of a fork and a knife so not to burn your fingers, chop it (you know my method, cut lengthways first and then slice away) before you put them in, if using pasta that takes a bit longer to cook, you can leave the chorizo a bit longer.
HINT: Should it be too thick, add more stock. Should it be too watery, just make sure you make it thicker when serving it by removing some of the extra liquid. See? I told you it was easy. If you don't eat it all straight away, make sure you remove it from the heat and leave the lid either off or only half covering the pan so that the pasta doesn't go too soft.

TIP: When immediate comfort is required, skip the carrots, add the chorizo and stock cube (if not using your own stock) when the water starts to boil and add the fideos or similar pasta for soup. In 5-10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta you could have a fantastic warming and comforting soup.

EXTRA TIP: You can also make a sopicaldo by chopping any leftover chicken and vegetables you may have.

YET ANOTHER TIP: Try making it with quinoa for a gluten free version, in that case make sure the chorizo is gluten free too (many tend to be but I am of the "you never know" persuasion).

Fideos Gallo number 0 in UK, England, London, Cambridge, Manchester, Birmingham, Exeter

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