Sopako bread is a special type of bread that we Basques use in the preparation of soups. Its literal translation from the Basque language is “for soup.” The bread is originally from the Basque Country, and it can thus be considered a “native” variety of bread, as it can be quite difficult to find outside of the Basque Country.
Originally, it was a type of bread that was produced to take advantage of the dough that was leftover at the end of the day at a bakery and the heat that remained in the oven once it was turned off.
In reality, sopako bread has no secret ingredients; it is made with flour, salt, water and yeast, just like regular bread. The main characteristic of this compact, light and low-crumb bread is the dark color of its crust, which provides our soup recipes with their representative toasted color. In order to achieve the characteristically dark crust of the sopako bread, bakers brush the bread with water and bake it at a temperature of 200° Celsius (400° Fahrenheit). As it is a dry type of bread, it has a great absorption capacity that is ideal for texturing the most renowned soups of Basque cuisine, such as the Zurrukutuna, Marmitako or fish soup.
For those of you who live outside of the Basque Country and want to use sopako bread to make a Basque dish, don’t despair! You can have your own version of the sopako bread by simply using any dry leftover bread that you may have from the previous days and toasting it for that added extra color.
During these days, as Covid-19 keeps modifying our daily work routines and we sometimes find ourselves with more time in our hands than what we are used to having, we have found refuge in cooking up some traditional Basque recipes. In the following days, we’ll be leaving a few of those recipes here for you to enjoy. We encourage you to cook some traditional Basque dishes using your own sopako bread.