The stages for making most seafood soups are similar to the stages for vegetable soups: aromatic ingredients are first cooked in a little oil or fat, liquid such as water or wine is added, herbs and other aromatic ingredients are tossed in while the liquid simmers, the fish is poached in the liquid, and enrichers such as cream, coconut milk, peanut butter, or aioli are added near the end. All of the world’s great seafood soups and stews can be made using these same methods by simply substituting different ingredients.
– Onions, chopped.
– Garlic, peeled and minced.
– Carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced crosswise.
– Fennel, sliced or diced.
– Lemongrass, stalks crushed with the flat side of a knife.
– Fresh ginger, peeled and grated.
– Fresh chiles, stemmed and seeded.
– Olive oil.
– Palm oil.
– Peanut oil.
– Vegetable oil.
– White beans, soaked for 4 hours in cold water and drainedPasta.
– Wild rice.
– White Rice.
Liquids and Moist Ingredients
– Water (sometimes seawater).
Aromatic Herbs and Spices
– Kaffir lime leaves.
– Dried chiles.
– Dried mushrooms.
Vegetables and Fruits
– Crispy green vegetables such as green beans, snow peas, spinach, and Swiss chard.
– Water chestnuts.
Shellfish Cooking Liquids
– Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and choppedTomatillos, husked, seeded, and chopped.
– Fish broth made from bones.
– Crustacean broth (made from lobster or crab shells).
– Fish sauce.
Fish and Shellfish
– Fish fillets from red snapper, striped bass, sea bass, branzino, and/or sea bream, skinned or skin on.
– Shellfish such as shrimp, mussels, clams.
Thickeners, Flavorful Finishers, Enrichers
– Heavy cream.
– Coconut milk.
– Ground nuts.
– Corn puree.
– Ground seeds such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and poppy seeds.
– Herb Butter.
– Crustacean Butter.
Step 1:Cook the aromatics of your choice in the fat in a stockpot over mediumhigh heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and shiny. Add the dried beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, or barley, and the liquid to cover, and simmer gently, partially covered, until the beans are almost done.
Step 2:Add the aromatic herbs and spices to the broth, and then add whatever vegetables you like and simmer until they are done.
Step 3:Heat the shellfish poaching liquid in a pan or pans (for poaching different kinds of fish and shellfish) on the stove, and slide the fish pieces and/or shellfish into the simmering liquid. Poach just until cooked, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Add the poaching liquid to the soup and reserve the cooked fish and/or shellfish.
Step 4:Alternatively, cook the fish in the oven. Heat the oven to 400°F, arrange the fish on 2 sheet pans, placing the thickest pieces on one sheet and the thinner pieces on another. Slide the sheet pan holding the thickest pieces of fish into the oven, and bake about 10 minutes per inch. Slide the sheet pan of thinner fish pieces into the oven, accordingly, so everything is done at once.
Step 5:Decide on the finishes and whisk them into the soup, simmering for a few minutes to incorporate. If you are using herb butter, you will top each serving with a dollop. Arrange the pieces of fish and/or shellfish in heated soup plates. Ladle the soup over the fish and/or shellfish.