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Bacalao and potato soup (Porrusalda Vasca)

Australian Gourmet Traveller Spanish recipe for bacalao and potato soup (Porrusalda Vasca).

By Lisa Featherby
  • Serves 4
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 3 hrs cooking plus soaking
Bacalao and potato soup (Porrusalda Vasca)
Bacalao and potato soup (Porrusalda Vasca)

This staple of Basque cooking is more of a stew than a soup. Bacalao (salt cod) is the favoured fish of the region, and of Spain generally. Usually this recipe is made with stockfish (cod that has been salted and dried until it's as hard as wood). You can use this if you like, but you may need to soak it for longer than bacalao. If you have trouble finding bacalao, you can also make your own by salting a piece of cod for a few days beforehand. A lighter version of this soup can be made using fresh cod (bacalao fresco). You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


  • 500 gm bacalao, soaked overnight in four changes of water
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 8 golden shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 Dutch cream potatoes, cut into 4cm pieces
  • 2 leeks, washed, sliced 1cm thick
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 baby leeks, washed
Fish stock
  • 1 kg cod bones
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped


  • 1
    For fish stock, rinse bones thoroughly under cold running water to remove blood. Combine in a large saucepan with remaining ingredients and enough cold water to just cover. Bring slowly to the boil over medium heat, skimming scum from surface, and cook over low heat until stock is well-flavoured (1-2 hours). Cool, then strain and reserve 1 litre. Remaining stock will keep frozen for up to 1 month.
  • 2
    Rinse bacalao under cold running water, place in a saucepan, cover with fish stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cod is just cooked through (6-8 minutes). Remove cod from liquid (reserve liquid), set aside to cool slightly (5-10 minutes), then coarsely flake flesh (discard skin and bones).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent and soft (5-10 minutes). Add potato, leek, bay leaves, spices and reserved cod stock, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is just tender (15-20 minutes). Add cod and simmer until potato is very tender (5-10 minutes). Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and keep warm.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, blanch baby leeks in a saucepan of boiling water until tender (1-2 minutes). Drain and thinly slice on an angle. Serve soup scattered with baby leeks.


Drink Suggestion: Dry tempranillo rosado. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Lisa Featherby