Basque Leek Soup
A simple leek-and-potato soup from the Basque Country makes an easy supper on a cold March evening. Perfect with chunks of good bread and one or two of the excellent regional cheeses – Idiazabal from the Basque country, Azul Hojas from Asturias and Arzua-ulloa from Galicia.
Serves 4 ordinary folk or 2 fieldworkers.
4 large leeks, trimmed, chunked and rinsed
4 large potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 tablespoons diced serrano ham
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2-3 garlic cloves, skinned
Trim off the green part of the leeks, slice finely and set aside. Slice the white part of the leek and transfer to a roomy pan with the potatoes, serrano ham and 1 1/2 litres cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes till the potato is perfectly soft.
Stir in the reserved leek-greens, bubble up again and remove the pan from the heat. Mash it a little to thicken the broth.
Meanwhile, fry the garlic gently in the olive oil until it softens (don’t let it brown). Ladle the soup into bowls and finish each portion with a spoonful of the garlicky oil.