February is still part of the low season at A Cooking Day, which is good in order to get some rest and recharge batteries, but at the same time I feel sorry because the countryside looks sooooo beautiful and the weather can be wonderful too, and you are missing it!
It’s winter (most days you would’t say so though) and so still the time to look for shelter in rural “ventas” where food without pretensions will bring us warm memories and comfort.
One of the best places to have a comforting and absolutely amazing lunch in a cold winter day is Arte de Cozina in Antequera, where Charo Carmona takes pride in keeping alive and sometimes bringing to life traditional recipes from the area using many local and seasonal ingredients.
It was in this restaurant that I tried for the first time the recipe that I bring you today in my own version, “porra de naranja”. According to the little history Charo tells about every dish coming to the table, this cold soup or gazpacho was served in winter time when tomatoes, used for the classic “porra”, were out of seaso. It’s probably an older sister of the porra that we all know today because oranges were introduced in the continent earlier than tomatoes. Yes, I know it’s cold out there to be thinking of cold soups, but it’s the best moment for oranges in this part of the world.
I like topping this creamy soup with some cod or shrimps for a more sophisticated touch. It’s a wonderful apetizer or starter with a tangy flavour and beautiful pale orange color.
Apart from fresh oranges, the ingredients are the basic ones used for a gazpacho: bread, garlic, vinegar, salt and extra virgin olive oil. I use a wide range of toppings depending of the day: pistachios, seeds, salted cod, grilled or boiled shrimps… and always a drizzle of green-golden extra virgin olive oil.
So this is the recipe for 4 people:
The juice of 5 fresh oranges
1 small garlic clove, peeled and chopped
3 big slices white bread*, crust removed (250grs approx)
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vinegar (Sherry vinegar works great).
Some topping ideas: chopped pistachios, salted cod (de-salted, slightly boiled and flaked) chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped olives, small prawns sauté or grilled
Squeeze the oranges and put the juice into the electric blender vase.
Soak the bread in the juice and let it set for a few minutes, until it’s soaked up most of the liquid.
Add salt, garlic and vinegar and blend until getting a very thin cream. With the motor running pour slowly the olive oil to emulsify the mix, the color will change into a lighter orange. Adjust seasoning to your taste and give a final touch with the blender before storing in the refrigerator.
Serve very well chilled and garnished with the toping of your choice or a mix of some of them (we love salted cod + pistachios) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
*The amount of bread to be used is not easy to tell, it depends of the oranges and how juicy they are, the type of bread (white and compact is the best) and also your taste. The cream should be thick enough to hold the toppings, but feel free to adapt the recipe putting more or less bread, garlic or vinegar