Saturday, November 25, 2017


Cooking is getting short shrift at my house, as I’m spending many daylight hours outside picking olives. It’s a bumper crop this year and, luckily, the weather has been fabulous.

Easy picking! Son Ben cuts down high branches. I sit on the ground and pull the olives off and plop them in a bucket. (Photo by Ben Searl.)

But I found a few minutes to make this fish soup, sopa al cuarto de hora, “fifteen-minute soup,” a Madrid classic. I tested the recipe against the clock, and it really does work—if you’ve got the shrimp peeled, the onions chopped and the water boiling before you start the timer.

A quickie fish soup, with cod, shrimp and clams. (The olives pictured are not for eating--they're fresh ones that will go to the mill to make virign olive oil.)

Prep all the ingredients before setting the timer. Ok to use frozen peas or any green veg. Leftover rice is fine.

Serve the soup with a dish on the side for depositing clam shells.

Fifteen-Minute Fish Soup
Sopa al Cuarto de Hora

I’ve usually got fish stock in the freezer—because I can’t bear to throw out fish heads, bones and trimmings. If fish stock is not available, use clam or chicken broth. Or water.

Cod is a good choice for the soup, but, really, any white fish will do. Got leftover cooked fish? Even quicker. Frozen fish is ok too. The clams are opened in the soup, which means you eat them out of the shells. If you prefer, first steam them open, discard shells and add them to the soup in the last minute of cooking. The classic version of this soup is made with peas, but any green vegetable will work. I like it with chopped chard.

Feel free to vary the ingredients and proportions. I came indoors from olive picking with a handful of fennel seeds, growing wild on the edge of the olive grove, so I added a few of them to the soup.

Serves 6.

¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup grated tomato pulp
¼ cup dry Sherry or white wine
1 cup peas or chopped chard
6 cups boiling water or stock
Pinch of fennel seed (optional)
¼ cup chopped ham, preferably serrano
Pinch of crushed saffron or pimentón (paprika)
6 ounces fish fillets, cut in 1-inch pieces
½ pound small clams
1 cup cooked rice
6 ounces small, peeled shrimp

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions on a medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and wine. Cook on a high heat for 1 minute. Add the water or stock, fennel, if using, salt to taste (1 ½ teaspoons if you’re using water instead of stock), ham, saffron or pimentón. Let the soup bubble for 5 minutes. Add the fish, clams and rice. Cook 5 minutes more. Add the shrimp and cook 3 minutes more.

Lots more olives to pick, so I'll be at this another week. Notice the blue sky? Sure hope the fine weather lasts.

More recipes for olive picking days: 
More quickie recipes:

No comments:

Post a Comment