Basque Potato and Leek in Salt Cod Broth


Preparation info

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By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

Porrusalda is a dish from the north of Spain and as my family is from the south I grew up only hearing about this dish. I never tried it until I was working in the region. Vanessa and I were on a day trip and we stopped at a little mountain restaurant near Rioja where porrusalda was on the menú de dia. Rising from the sea of pale green soup was a pearly tile of white fish, surrounded by swirls of verdant green and deep red oils.

The version we serve is just as velvety and has the wonderful underlaying roundedness of the fish stock. It’s really worth taking the time to whizz up the flavoured oils because they don’t just add colour but also a little hit of concentrated flavour.


  • 1 red capsicum (pepper)
  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) piece of salt cod, 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ inch) thick, desalinated
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) olive oil (you may not need all the oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 leeks, trimmed, washed, halved lengthways then cut into 5 mm (¼ inch) slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, extra, sliced into fine slivers
  • 3 large russet (idaho) or king edward potatoes, diced
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) fish stock
  • 1 thick slice 2-day-old pasta dura or other firm crusty bread
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 170 ml ( fl oz/ cup) extra virgin olive oil, extra
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish sweet paprika
  • sea salt flakes, to sprinkle


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Roast the capsicum for 40–45 minutes until the skin blackens and blisters. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Remove the skin, seeds and membrane from the capsicum.

Reduce the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2). Remove the ‘wings’ from the desalinated cod fillet and use for the fish stock.

Cut the remaining flesh into six equal portions. With your fingers, gently remove the flesh from the spine, being careful to keep the skin on as you go. Use the bones for the stock. Put the fillets in an ovenproof frying pan, just large enough to hold them, skin side up, and pour over enough olive oil to cover the fish to just below the skin. Add the garlic cloves, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. When cooked the flesh will be pearly white, have a flaky texture and some of the fish juices will have leached into the oil. Set the fish aside, cover with foil and keep warm. Increase the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

In a large saucepan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, add the leek and garlic slivers and gently cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the leeks have softened add the potato and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Cover with the fish stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, make the croutons. Roughly tear apart the bread, put the pieces on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

To make the oils, wash and pick the leaves from the parsley, pat dry with paper towel then purée in a blender with 100 ml ( fl oz) of the extra oil for 1 minute, until a smooth consistency is achieved. Pour into a small container and rinse the blender. Repeat the process, this time adding the roasted capsicum, together with the paprika and the remaining extra oil.

To serve, drain the cod on paper towel. Place one fish fillet in each of six wide shallow bowls, then ladle the soup around each fillet. Drizzle the flavoured oils over the soup and sprinkle with croutons and some sea salt flakes.