over 2 hours
By Jose Pizarro
For the soup
- salt cod skin (see below)
- 150g/5½oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
- 150g/5½oz dried white beans, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
- 1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small leek, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp pimentón de la Vera dulce (sweet Spanish smoked paprika)
- 4 free-range eggs
- 2 large handfuls spinach
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the albondigas
- 250g/9oz stale bread, crusts removed
- 150ml/¼ pint full-fat milk
- 250g/9oz salt cod, soaked for 24–48 hours in cold water, (changing the water every 12 hours)drained, skin removed and reserved
- large bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
- olive oil, for frying
- freshly ground pepper
To make the soup, put the salt cod skin, chickpeas, white beans, all but 3 of the garlic cloves, the bay leaf, the leek and 1 litre/1¾ pint of cold water to a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 1½ hours, adding another 750ml/1¼ pint of water halfway through, until the beans and chickpeas are soft. Remove and discard the fish skin, bay leaf, garlic and leek.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion and pimentón for 10 minutes, until soft.
Blitz the onion and a tablespoon of the soup in a food processor, until smooth. Add this to the soup and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the eggs in a pan of boiling water for 6–8 minutes. Run under cold water, then peel and quarter.
To make the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk for 2 minutes, until soft. Remove from the milk and put in a large bowl. Crumble the salt cod over the bread and mix.
Finely chop the remaining 3 garlic cloves and add to the bowl with the parsley. Season with pepper and mix well. Shape into 18–20 ping pong-sized balls.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan to 180C, or until a cube of bread browns in about 20 seconds. Fry the balls for 2–3 minutes, until golden brown.
Add the balls and the spinach to the soup and simmer for 5–10 minutes.
To serve, spoon the soup into individual bowls and top with the egg quarters and plenty of black pepper.