Quarter-of-an-Hour Soup (Sopa al Cuarto de Hora)

This quaintly named Spanish soup is a filling mixture of seafood, ham and vegetables. It is so named because the main stage of cooking takes quarter of an hour.


serves 6
900 ml (1 1/2 pints) 3 3/4 cups Water
6 Small clams, scrubbed
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 Medium onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, crushed
2 Tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped
25 g (1 oz) 1/6 cup Long-grain rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
1 Tbs Lemon juice
225 g (8 oz) Shelled shrimps
50 g (2 oz) Serrano or other ham, chopped
1 Hard-boiled egg, finely chopped


1. Pour the water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the clams, cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the shells open (discard any clams that do not open). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a serving plate and keep hot. Either remove one or both shells, according to taste. Reserve the clam cooking liquid. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and fry until they are soft. Stir in the tomatoes and fry gently until the mixture is thick and pulpy. Remove from the heat.

2. Strain the clam liquid into a fresh saucepan, and bring to the boil. Stir in the tomato mixture, rice and lemon juice, and bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the reserved clams, and simmer for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimps and clams are heated through.

4. Transfer the soup to a warmed tureen and serve at once.

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