Food You Can Eat: Saveur’s Marmitako: Basque Tuna and Potato Soup

Did you know that Paco Rabanne, he of the cologne, is Basque?

Image via Saveur

When Better Half and I returned from Spain I went through a Spanish phase. I lived for a while in a Spanish-speaking country and could, then, pass for a native, but alas my language skills have atrophied but once in Spain it all came flooding back. Unlike “Hilaria” Baldwin I did not change my name, adopt a “Spanish” accent, and say things like “How you say, uh, cucumber?” But for about a year I did learn how to make a number of dishes from the Iberian peninsula and this is one of them. I still make them sometimes but not with the frequency I did in the pre-pandemic times. 

I’m going to cheat and basically reprint this recipe from Saveur. The magazine/site doesn’t tell you this but this easily feeds four, especially if accompanied by hearty bread and preceded and accompanied by pintxos, which are the Basque versions of tapas. 

1 lb. raw tuna, cut into ½-inch cubes [You have to get the highest-quality, most trustworthy tuna you can find. You’ll see.]

Kosher salt

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 lb. yellow potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp. pimentón (smoked paprika)

Coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves, for garnish


  1. In a medium bowl, season the tuna lightly with salt and toss to coat. Set aside.
  1. To a large pot set over medium heat, add the oil; when the oil is hot, add the bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add the potatoes and garlic, season with salt, and continue cooking until vegetables are softened but not colored, 3–5 minutes. Add the pimentón and 3 cups water [you would think this doesn’t seem like enough but the pepper, onion, and potatoes will release a lot of liquid and you don’t want the soup to be watery] and bring to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 13–15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the tuna, and immediately cover the pan. Set aside until the fish is just barely cooked through, 3–5 minutes. [This is why you need the high-grade tuna.]

And that’s it! On egin! (As they say in Euskara, the language of the Basques. This means, “Bon appétit!”)  



  1. Well now – that looks easy, fairly heart-healthy, and tasty! A trifecta!

  2. Boy, that looks really good. Thanks.

  3. I am prepared to chow down Basque-style.  It looks like they eat pretty good over there.

  4. Little-known fact about me: I spent about 3 years working for Saveur in their marketing department after my daughter was born. It was published by an Orlando company called World Publications. At some point after I moved on, Saveur and the 15 or so other magazines published there were sold to Bonnier Corporation, where it resides now (I think). I think it went to digital-only a year or two ago.

    • In the pre-Internet age I had a friend who did marketing/sales for Saveur. The only swag I got out of it was free copies of the magazine 🙁

      • I actually got to (was assigned to) go to some tastings, and got some swag that way. A set of Wusthof knives, for one. I also learned that I hate quail. I never got to go to any cool events, like the Saveur Wine & Food Festival. We had event staff that did the big events. I just got sent on the sucky ones that served quail.

        I hesitate to say this lest you be forced to retire to your fainting couch, but after the quail event I drove straight to McDonalds and got a Big Mac. 

        • Oh I don’t blame you! I have nothing against fast food, I just don’t each much of it, partly because we eat at home so much. In the Before Times, when I was working in Midtown (all my jobs have been in Midtown), there were never many fast food outlets near any of the offices. Ditto for my old apartment, and I don’t know why, because there sure were plenty of Starbucks.

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