Quarter of an hour soup Sopa al cuarto de hora

A popular quick fish soup originating from Cádiz, though not quite as quick as the name, ‘quarter-of- an-hour soup’, would suggest. As with all such soups there seem to be as many recipes as there are cooks, the chief differences being in the combination of fish and shellfish used. All contain rice, however, are unmistakably flavoured with serrano ham and are finished with chopped hard-boiled egg. Here is one comparatively cheap version.


  • 8 mussels 450g
  • 1lb small clams
  • 1.5 litres/ ½ pints fish broth, unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 120g/ 4oz serrano ham, diced
  • 120g/ 4oz rice
  • 400g/ 14oz filleted hake or similar white fish, in medium-sized chunks
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped


Wash the mussels and clams, removing any dead or broken specimens. It is not necessary to scrub the mussels. Place them in a wide pan, cover and place over a medium heat. Very soon the shellfish will open, releasing their juices. Set them aside as they do so. When they are all open remove the flesh from the shells and reserve it. Strain the juices through a fine sieve into the fish broth.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the ham quickly for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir it around with the oil and ham until it starts to go transparent. Pour in the broth and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the fish. Taste for salt at this stage, though enough should be provided by the ham and shellfish.

Simmer for 10 minutes more. Add the egg, mussels and clams and heat through briefly. The rice should be more or less tender, and certainly will be by the time everyone is seated and served.


Simple and great taste. Quite a rich flavour as well so not really an every day dish. The Serrano ham probably adds a lot. Well worth making again and experimenting with it.


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