I was reminded this weekend of just how perfect a pot of soup is for welcoming out-of-town guests. You can make it ahead–in fact it improves with time–it can sit around on the back burner until you are ready for it, and it makes your home smell wonderfully inviting.
Here is a simple recipe for a spicy Portuguese chorizo and greens soup adapted from the Joy of Cooking: All About Soups and Stews. In a soup pot, saute in vegetable oil a chopped onion and some minced garlic until tender, then add 6 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water, several sliced potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 20 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked through give the soup a once over with a potato masher. In a pan over medium-high heat, brown 3 chorizo sausages out of their casings. Add the meat to the soup pot and then add a couple of ladles of the broth to the hot pan scraping up the browned bits before returning it to the soup. Simmer 5 minutes before stirring in a bunch of shredded kale (other greens will also do). Simmer 5 more minutes and then stir in the juice from half a lemon. Serve.
The result is spicy and heart-warming, hearty and healthy, and a welcomed antidote from food on the road.