Hazelnut Soup or Sopa de Avellanas, with pan-fried leeks

This is the start of a project I’m hoping to work on throughout the year. Five years ago I went off travelling with the hope of learning more about differing cuisines in Europe, and elsewhere. That never happened. Partly as I started the trip out of season, with practically all of the interesting restaurants closed until further notice. That, and with a distinct lack of Wi-Fi in Southern Europe meant it was almost impossible to research the subject whilst there. As the only, at times unreliable, information readily available was through tourist offices – when they spoke English, as most of them did. Not all of them, believe me. Unfortunately, both my Spanish and French are appalling – don’t understand a word in any other tense than the present! Quite honestly, it wasn’t until I hit Central and Eastern Europe that food, and Wi-Fi, actually became a lot more frequent and food more interesting. In that it was possible to eat local cuisine very easily without having to frequent restaurants all the time – something I’m loath to do unless it’s possible to sit outside and people watch. That way it’s always less lonely!

Anyway, the journey itself, from a food point of view, was incredibly dull, most of the time. There’s bad food everywhere. And fast food. Equally as bad. Bocadillos in Spain, crêpes in Southern France and rubbish pasta in Italy! Although, I loved a slice or two of takeaway thin crust pizza. Including when I popped over to Venice for the afternoon. Finding somewhere from the hoards to nibble was the problem. Yes, I nibble my food! Especially in public as I’m not an absolute pig – I just look like one. So! I’m starting off with Spain, a country I happen to like and know almost as well as the UK – if it’s possible to know a country, that is. Oh, and I happen to like it a lot more than the UK, if I’m honest! When I very recently Googled Spanish soup this Hazelnut Soup, or Sopa de Avellanas, was one of the first to appear. And for me it positively leapt from the page. Even though I’ve been all over Spain, apart from Asturias and Galicia, I’ve never heard of this, as it turns out, incredibly delightful soup. Hah, possibly a fluke? Let’s see what the next country on my list has to offer!

Hazelnut Soup or Sopa de Avellanas, with pan-fried leeks

INGREDIENTS:

PREP: up to 30 mins ~ COOK: about 45 mins ~ READY IN: 1 hour

ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: soup blender/liquidiser or handheld stick blender

For the stock:

  • ½ x leek, white and both pale and dark greens, sliced lengthways to near its root end and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 x smallish carrot, peeled, trimmed and chopped in half
  • 1 x broccoli stalk, well trimmed all over and split in half lengthways
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 5 x whole black peppercorns
  • scant ¼ x teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 500ml (16.91 fl oz) x cold water
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube

For the soup:

  • 230g (8.113 oz) x leeks, white and pale green only, sliced crossways and thoroughly rinsed
  • oil
  • up to 80g (2.822 oz) x whole hazelnuts, roasted and ground (it may not be necessary to use all of the hazelnuts, add less and then add more to personal taste)
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt (only if necessary) and ground black pepper
  • single/light cream, to personal taste

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Add all of the stock ingredients to a large saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 out of 6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for up to 30 minutes. Take off heat, strain through a metal sieve into a suitable bowl, grab a metal serving spoon and smash the vegetables to retain as much of their nutrients and juice as possible. Return the strained stock, pouring it through a fine wire metal sieve if necessary, to the saucepan.
  • in the meantime, put a heavy-based saucepan on heat No 3. When pan is hot add a good glug of oil, enough to cover its base, and add the leeks. Clamp on a lid for the first 15 minutes, stir through and reduce heat to No 2 if necessary. It’s not about caramelising the leeks at this stage. It’s getting them beautifully soft and slightly sticky at the same time. When fully soft take off heat.
  • Scatter the hazelnuts on to a baking tray and place in a cold oven on the middle shelf. Switch the oven on to 180°C or 356°F. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and when oven has preheated switch off. Grab the baking tray and check the hazelnuts. If they’re not fully roasted, and they should be a pale golden colour, place them back in the oven for up to 10 minutes more with the oven off and the door closed. Do keep and eye on them at this stage as they can and will scorch. Take them our when ready, allow to cool sufficiently before removing their dark skins. Which should peel off easily. Any that don’t can be keep aside for garnish. The rest need to be ground.
  • 5 or 10 minutes before serving add some of the ground hazelnuts to the blended soup base. On heat No 3 allow a couple of minutes for all of the flavours to reheat and infuse before tasting. At this stage do add any necessary seasoning and any extra ground hazelnuts. Thin the soup to the consistency needed with single/light cream and serve hot.
  • Pour the strained stock and add some of the leeks to a soup blender when cool enough to do so. Blend until smooth. Taste, if possible, for any needed seasoning and for extra leeks to be added. If that’s the case blend again until smooth.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


56 comments

  1. I have never heard of hazelnut soup but I love the way it sounds, it is a beautiful creamy looking soup and I do Love hazelnuts. Spain is one of my favorite places next to Italy that is, gorgeous country with really good wine, Are you going to do Portugal? Love it there and their food and wine.

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    • I’d never heard of it either. The Spanish do forage better than us in the UK. Even though it’s fashionable over here to do so.
      This time around I’m not so sure about including Portugal, even though I’ve been there quite a few times. I’ve already gone with their green and potato soup. And chicken piripiri. Hmm, why not? Lisbon used to be one of my favourite cities. So I guess it would be interesting to find out about their other soups, as I’m hoping to keep this vegetarian (as soups are easily adaptable). At least for the time being. Any suggestions?

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    • If only I could, I would be delighted to do so! Actually, you’re too late! As I’ve just scoffed the last of it for sups. What you see in the photos I’d made last night. So all I had to do on a lazy Sunday was to reheat. Besides cooking a large stir-fry for lunch.

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        • We don’t really do ‘nut’ soups here in the UK, or at least not that I’m aware off. The only soup I’ve tried making was a version of an old French chicken and almond soup brought over to Scotland around 400 years ago. Maybe I’ll try making that one again toward summer.

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    • Yes, it’s definitely an Autumnal/wintry soup. Partly as I never normally buy leeks in warmer months, unless I absolutely have to. And I don’t know of another base that I could use to have a thinner, colder version of this during summer. Maybe I’ll look at their almond soup that seems to be as popular.

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  2. I’ve never heard of hazelnut soup before. It sounds amazing, really. Your Europe adventures sound awesome. 😉
    I love the photo as well – it’s brighter and lighter than usual.
    Look forward to your next post!
    Sophia

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    • I’d never heard of it either. And apparently there’s an almond soup as well. That I’ll have to check out as I tend to chuck ground almonds into most of my baked goodies.
      Thanks re photo. It’ll hopefully be my Spring look! Although, I’m hoping to use stronger colours as well. If I can find them.

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  3. I’ve never heard of this soup, but I know about Spanish almond soup, so I am not too surprised. It sounds quite intriguing, and I am sure must have tasted delicious. Can’t wait for the next country you take us to!

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    • I’ve never heard of either! I’ll have to try and find a recipe for the almond soup as well. As I do like the idea of something like this, but thinner, and served warm during summer. And I might be off to France next soup! That’ll be difficult. As one of the finest meals I had the entire trip was a fish soup in Perpignan. 10/10!

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  4. The first thing I said (yes I’m talking to myself when I read posts) when I saw your post was “oh wow! hazelnut soup – sounds fantastic”. And reading your post, it does. Have to try this. Also like your 2nd picture – gorgeous light.

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    • Thanks re second photo. As I almost didn’t bother going with. And the lead-in is really too large for this post. The look will hopefully be my Spring sort of feel, with stronger colours if I can find them.
      This soup is good. And according to Darya there’s an almond soup as well. Will have to check that one out.

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  5. I have never ever heard of hazelnut soup before but I recently had cream of almond soup which was supremely good and I am sure this would be even more delicious! Definitely gonna try! Also, I love the light in 2nd photo 🙂

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    • Thank you! It’s a new look for me. Really wasn’t sure about the light nor simplicity of photo. As to where next, possibly the South of France. Where I had thee most amazing fish soup. That I won’t try and replicate as it would be impossible to do so. The selection of fish/seafood would have to reflect these waters. And, talking of which, there isn’t a fishmonger in sight!

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  6. This sounds fabulous Johnny and rather autumnal (very sweet of you to think of us Antipodeans…) I’ve never tried either almond or hazelnut soup, so would be intrigued to give them both a go. Look forward to watching how your project develops – it sounds wonderful! There are days when I actually feel like I was born on the wrong continent – it tends to flip flop between Europe and New Zealand.
    My French is about to be put to the test in a couple of week’s time, with some dear friends coming out to visit for 3 weeks… they speak little English, so I’m going to be spending 24/7 with them to act as tour guide and interpreter. Not sure if I’ll make it to Fiesta Friday (or post terribly much at all for that matter…) while they’re here. It will be a challenge, that’s for sure!

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    • It is spot on for your Autumn. And I would love to come up with an ingredient to sub the leeks to be able to make this further into the year. It really is that good. Although, a couple of people have mentioned an almond soup so I’ll be checking that one out as well.
      Isn’t it strange. Growing up, for me there was much more of an affiliation with everything American, partly as almost everyone in N. Ireland know of some one, or have rellies, in the States. Now, I’ve got much more of a fascination with Europe proper. Especially Paris. Haven’t been there for years!
      One day! One day I’ll speak French and Spanish in something other than the present tense. I even follow several blogs in both languages hoping to refresh. As I never get the chance to speak either. It’s all too easy to forget. I wish you well for when your friends are visiting. I’m sure they’ll have a great time. And eat incredibly…they probably won’t want to leave!

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  7. I totally agree, I live in NE Spain and I reckon that unfortunately and in spite of the great quality and delicious food you can find all over the country, it is not really accessible for tourists, that are often offered crappy pre-cooked paellas and frozen fried tapas while there’s so much more than that in Spanish cuisine! Or Sangria! when there is such a wide variety of excellent wines to taste not to be ruin with sugar and fruit!
    Food (and wine) in NW Spain, specially in Basque Country is not to be missed! really worth the visit.
    The love of Spanish people for dull “bocadillos” deserves an entire thesis that I cannot developed here, hard to understand…
    Lovely soup, I’ve never tried it before!

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    • Bocadillos can be exceptionally dull. However, I’ve had them freshly rubbed with tomato and garlic and toasted beautifully. With a café con leche they sometimes make an okay breakfast. The fascination with everything white bread gets to me! Even served with tapas. No! And the people serving would look at me as if I was the one that was strange!
      It’s difficult to find interesting places to eat. And quite often for me it was a case of it’ll do. As at least I could sit outside. A lot of the time I went to supermarkets and bought bags of salad leaves, cans of fish and always had salted almonds on, certainly travelling through Spain. Then I would have my own little picnics!
      I’ve been to the NW after all (but not to Galacia nor The Asturias). To the Basque country a couple of times, yes. When I stayed in Vitoria my friends Mother cooked the most incredible food most days. Actually, one of the best lunches I had the last time over in Spain was in Sitges, of all places. With a friend who now lives in Barcelona. The food in Catalonia, including Southern France, was exceptionally good.

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    • It may be difficult to choose just one soup from each country. Although, at the moment they will have to be vegetarian. And cooked with readily accessible ingredients. I’ve no intention of traipsing to and fro from the superstore! But I may look at regional soups/stews as well. To spend two months the last time in Spain and only do one soup isn’t really fair. Having said that, to do Spanish food justice would be impossible on here.

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    • I’ve never seen nor heard of either! And I will be trying the almond, as the only soup I’ve tried to make was an old French soup brought over to Scotland around 400 years ago. Would so love to do something more recent.

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  8. It is fun to explore the soup recipes from other countries as I believe that they are usually made with ingredients of their particular area. I remember a delicious cream of onion soup that was drizzled with wonderful Spanish olive oil while in Barcelona. This hazelnut soup sounds delicious.

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    • That in itself could pose problems for me, as in finding authentic ingredients! It may be a case, like this one, of going with what I can readily find locally. As for onion soup I’m intrigued. As I made a French onion soup last summer and didn’t care for it enough to even go with a post. Odd coming from someone that caramelises onions so often. I’ll check that one out as I found the food around Catalonia to be some of the best in Spain.

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  9. This does look beautiful and is very intriguing. I’ve never been to Spain but it’s on my bucket list. Just back from Mexico – one of three countries that UNESCO has recognized for their food culture – the others are Japan and France. If Mexican food found its roots in Spain – then I’ll love Spanish food. And oh your photographs. I love the linen shot in your header. Beautiful.

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    • Wow, I’m sure you had a great time! I’ve little knowledge about Mexican cuisine (and it’s not really possible to compare TexMex, is it?!) so I wouldn’t have a clue if Spanish food has had an influence or not. The one thing I do know there are generally very few spices used in Spanish food, apart from paprika and saffron that I know off. Hah, could be so terribly wrong in that!
      Thanks re photos. And looking forward to Mexican themed posts, perhaps? Hope so, as I would love to learn about their food. Oddly, out of all the differing restaurants and cafés I’ve been to in London I don’t remember having Mexican food.

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  10. Wow this looks amazing and it must taste amazing too. Hazelnut is a pretty strong flavored nut. I’ve had amazing soups in Spain. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Well done and thank you for sharing. As always your photos are stunning.

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    • The hazelnuts are surprisingly creamy. Even though I had to use a pestle and mortar. I’ve always loved them, along with all the other tree nuts/nuts. I never know the difference, half the time!
      Thank you re photos. It’ll hopefully be my new look for Spring. Although, today doesn’t feel like it at all!

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    • It is! And I’m so glad you mentioned the bread as I forgot to. In the photo it’s shop-bought – shame on me! – white baguette with sesame seeds and toasted with Brie. Very simple but nice with the soup.

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    • It is tasty. Although it’s kind of rich so I probably wouldn’t make this often. Possibly best to serve it as a starter. Definitely interesting to try. And it wasn’t too sweet. I’ve made a chicken and almond soup several times before and that was verging way too close to the sweet mark for me.
      Yes, I like the idea of this project as I feel that I missed out on so much. Especially to do with food. It’s still so much easier to research before you go. And even five years ago, whilst travelling, I really was shocked at how seldom I was able to get Wi-Fi!

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  11. This is such a unique soup. Several month ago I made a Spanish almond soup I found on our good friend Amanda’s site and it was incredible. I’ll have to give this my attention too. Ah! I just love your second photograph. I just sat here admiring the natural fibers, wooden handled utensils, lovely white dishes and the rustic cracked board. All so aesthetically pleasing.

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    • Must have a look at Amanda’s recipe. Thanks for letting me know that. I’ve cooked an old French soup with chicken and almonds several times before, but it tends to be too sweet for my palate. Having said that, I like the idea of a thin almond vegetarian soup to serve just warm during summer. With crusty bread and cheese.
      Thanks re photo. I do like photographing white against tan coloured woods. Besides, it’s difficult to find interesting soup plates here. Well, that I can afford to buy for food props. 🙂 Oh, and the board is only a prop. I would never use a cracked chopping board!

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