I’m going to make a fish pun here…

 Just for the halibut.

With all the cold and snow that New England has been hit with recently, all I’ve been wanting is comfort food. That warm, fill-you-up stuff that’s oh so tasty, and usually oh-so-fattening.My comfort food craving? Hearty soup. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a broccoli cheddar or cream of potato or some kind of hearty chowder, but I can never seem to justify the mass amounts of cheese, bacon, and cream that go into those kinds of delicious, delicious soups. And, as much as I think I’m craving them, when I do actually sit down to eat something so heavy, I never end up feeling very good afterward.

So, long story short, nothing gets made. Whomp, whomp.

Then, one day there was fish in the fridge and a voice said, “Can you do something with this so it doesn’t go bad?” No, that wasn’t Edesia, the Roman Goddess of Feasting, it was my mom. She stood with this slab of fish sealed in a bag. “I took it out the other night, but we decided to go out to dinner instead. So, can you make something with it tonight?” She raised an eyebrow, placed the bag of fish on the counter, and went back to her own crafting habit, leaving me in a flurry of fish-for-dinner thoughts.

Over the fall, my dad, my boyfriend, and I had gone fishing and had caught a lot of delicious fish–Blue fish, Porgy, Bass. I had cleaned and put the fillets in the freezer for later consumption.

But, for some reason, I really only associate fish with spring and summer. I have no idea why. So I kind of forgot about it. And, because my family doesn’t really LOVE the idea of fish, they only eat it specific ways, like in tacos. And I couldn’t do fish tacos in the dead of winter. Though, perhaps I should, since that would obviously make me feel like it’s May, instead of snowy February. I could sip a Corona with a lime in it and pretend it is a warm and sunny summer night…..that would be nice. Maybe I should have done that.

But I didn’t. Because I’m practical and like to try different things…and am stubborn. It’s winter, damn it. I’m going to make a damn soup. It’s going to be filling and delicious and not make me feel too full or icky because of too much (delicious) dairy.

So, stew it is. When I read ‘fish stew’ it never really appeals to me. Yes, it’s probably delicious, but I have really hard time getting over the imposed mental image of just a pot of fish heads bubbling away. I have no idea where that idea came from, or how it became implanted in my mind, but there you have it. Strange, to be sure.

But, when my boyfriend came over for dinner he said the same thing about the image fish stew conjures, albeit a bit more poetically. Essentially…sounds awful, tastes good. Maybe it’s just a “people who don’t eat fish much” thing, or maybe it’s a “people who don’t eat fish stew much” thing. Whatever the reasons or preconceived notions, I put them aside, broke out the stockpot, and got started.

I found the recipe on Food 52. I love that site. There were so many recipes I was torn between choosing. There was an exceptional looking fish and potato curry, but I knew that would be a gamble. My mom doesn’t like those flavors, and I haven’t mastered the art of toasting spices. (And I really did want soup). I went with the safe choice of the soup and dove in.

As usual with my cooking, I adapted it to suit what I had on hand. I didn’t have fish stock, so used chicken. I didn’t have fresh basil or fresh parsley (which would have made the soup amazing) so used dried. I didn’t have scallops, so left them out. I only used enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, instead of the 1/3 c it called for. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes, so I used a can of diced tomatoes. I squeezed a bit of lemon in the broth and added zucchini.

The result? A tasty and hearty fish soup that was very reminiscent of a minestrone. No complains in my book. My mom even liked it, and she’s usually very picky about fish.

The original recipe suggests eating a bowl of this soup with some nice crusty bread. I highly suggest this. The broth is fabulous mopped up with something hearty like that.

Seafood Soup
Adapted from Dad’s Favorite Seafood Stew, on Food52.comfish 1

Ingredients

Olive oil
4
crushed garlic cloves
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup sliced zucchini
1
cup homemade, or store bought, chicken stock
1/2
cup dry white wine
1
pound skinned saltwater fish filets (snapper, sole, halibut, cod) cut into 2 inch chunks
8
large peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 tsp
dried basil leaves
1 tsp
dried parsley
1/4 to 1/2 fresh lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a 4 to 6 quart dutch oven or sauce pot. Add the crushed garlic and saute on very low heat for about two minutes or until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.fish 2
  2. Add the tomatoes, stock, lemon juice, and wine and simmer for 5 minutes. fish 3
  3. After 5 minutes, add the chopped zucchini, basil, and parsley and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add the fish and shrimp and simmer for another 5 minutes until the seafood is just done. Don’t over cook or it will get rubbery.
  5.   Serve immediately with that crusty bread.fish 4
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