Spanish Recipes Recipes from Spain Spnish Cuisine

Sopa al Cuarto de Hora

Sopa al Cuarto de Hora is a deliciously quick and easy to prepare seafood soup, with clams and prawns, infused with the flavour of smokey ham. Sopa al Cuarto de Hora is translated as “quarter of an hour soup”, which refers to the period the soup is cooked.


• 1½ pints water
• 8 small hard-shelled clams, washed and thoroughly scrubbed, or substitute cockles or small cooking oysters
• 1½ tbs. olive oil
• 2 oz. finely chopped onions
• 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
• 1 small bay leaf
• 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 oz finely chopped Serrano ham, or substitute 1 oz. prosciutto or other lean smoked ham
• 2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
• 1½ oz. raw medium, long-grain or short-grain rice
• 3 tbs. dry, white wine
• 1/8 tsp. ground saffron or saffron threads crushed with a pestle and mortar or with the back of a spoon
• ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
• 8 medium-sized raw shelled prawns cut into 1/2 inch pieces
• 1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped


1. Bring 1 ½ pints of water to the boil in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Drop in the clams, cover tightly and boil briskly for 5-10 minutes, until the shells open. Transfer the clams to a plate, remove the clams and discard the shells. (discard any shells that remain closed). Set the clams aside and reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the saffrito. Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a heavy, medium-sized frying pan until a light haze forms above it.
3. Add the onions, garlic and bay leaf and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and transparent but not brown.
4. Add the tomatoes, ham and parsely, raise the heat and cook briskly for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape lightly in a spoon. Set aside off the heat.
5. Strain the clam cooking liquid through a fine sieve, and return it to the saucepan.
6. Add the safrito, rice, wine, saffron and lemon juice and bring to the boil over a high heat and reduce the heat to low. Stir once or twice, partially cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is tender.
7. Add the prawns, egg and clams and simmer for 2-3 minutes longer until the prawns turn pink. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
8. Serve at once from a heated tureen or in individual soup plates.
                                                                                            (Serves 4-6 )

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