Salt Codfish and Leek Soup Recipe

Salt Codfish and Leek Soup

Purrusalda means leek broth in Euskera, the Basque language. It’s a traditional vegetable soup recipe with carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions, and leeks. It is traditionally eaten during lent all over Spain.

The addition of salt cod is common albeit purists argue that such a soup should not be called Porrusalda. Fresh codfish can be used in place of salt cod.  In my opinion a rather mute argument – the dish is heartier and more fun with salt cod, redolent with garlic.

Yield: 4 servings

Time:  40 minutes

Ingredients:

US MeasuresMetricICYMI
  • 11 oz salt cod, cut into medium-size pieces
  • 3 Tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 large potatoes, diced coarsely
  • 2 large carrots, cut into dices
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 cups salt cod cooking water
  • 4 Tbsp flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 300 g salt cod, cut into medium-size pieces
  • 3 Tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 large potatoes, diced coarsely
  • 2 large carrots, cut into dices
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 L salt cod cooking water
  • 4 Tbsp flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Salt Cod vs Stockfish

Salt cod (bacalhau) is using a long-lived preservation method of salting. Traditionally special varieties of cod were used but due to overfishing, other firm flesh non-oily fish often serve as substitutes such as haddock, pollack, hake and striped bass. The traditional salting process takes three weeks. The fish are placed in large crates, covered with salt and turned over every 4-5 days so that they can absorb all the salt and lose excess water. The salt content absorbed by the fish during salting must exceed 18%. Modern methods, eschewed by the the slow food movement, inject the fish with a salt solution.

Stockfish, on the other hand, is cod dried in the sun on special racks for three months. It seems that its name derives from the Norwegian stokkfisk or from the Dutch stokvis, meaning “stick fish” or “fish dried on sticks”. Stockfish and bacalhau are often confused, especially in Italy where the famous Baccal√† alla Vicentina dish uses stoccafisso (stockfish).

Preparation:

Put the desalted cod in a saucepan with fresh cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Drain the cod and save about 4 cups (1 L) of the cooking water. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, leeks, and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes or until de leeks are soft. Add diced potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, paprika and the saved salt cod cooking water. Let it simmer over low heat until potatoes and carrots are almost tender. Add the cod and simmer it for 5-8 minutes longer. When ready taste for salt and pepper. 

Drizzle with extra olive oil and sprinkle with parsley on top and serve warm.

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