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I love the fall weather that has struck our neck of the woods lately. I love knowing that change is in the air–change of seasons, change of pace, change of diet. In the spirit of the impending changes, this is Plan to Eat’s last Nourishing Traditions-themed post. I know some of you will be disappointed. Truth be told, I am too. I’m still really enjoying cooking from this thought-provoking book, so I’m sure a few of the recipes will keep popping up from time-to-time. But for now, we’re closing Sally Fallon, and opening…….

Oh, you wish I would tell you, don’t you! So sorry. I have to keep it under my hat for another week. Next Wednesday I’ll speak a bit more to my own experience and conclusions with Nourishing Traditions…and I’ll let you in on what I’ll be cooking from this fall.

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while. Our family took a vacation to a Florida beach house back in June, and as it happened, my mom had a birthday while we were there. My brother and I thought it was a great excuse to cook up an indulgent meal inspired by the beach. This soup was superb, and everyone slurped it up. The kiddos had mostly broth, but still, everyone ate from the same pot and called dinner “delicious”.

Even though it was delicious, I’m withholding all the stars. If you can manage to find pre-made shrimp stock, then I might consider giving it a star for ease of preparation. But I made my own shrimp stock from some shrimp we’d had earlier in the week. If I lived in a place where fresh seafood was readily accessible, then I might consider giving it a star for accessibility. But under no circumstances does it rate as “affordable”. This is not everyday-fare.

Mediterranean Fish Soup (Cioppino) page 207, Nourishing Traditions

Ingredients

  • organic onion finely chopped
  • 14 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 12 quarts shrimp stock (page 121, Nourishing Traditions)
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 12 tsp oregano
  • 14 tsp red chile flakes
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 large garlic cloves peeled and mashed
  • 2-4 Tbs fish sauce
  • sea salt and pepper
  • tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound fresh sea bass or other white fish cut into cubes
  • 1 pound fresh crab meat
  • 1 pound fresh scallops
  • 1 pound fresh bay shrimp
  • 16 fresh clams or mussels
  • crab or lobster claws

1. In a large, stainless steel pot, saute onion gently in olive oil. Stir in tomato paste and add wine, stock, spices and garlic. Bring to a rapid boil and cook vigorously, skimming occasionally, until the stock is reduced to the consistency of thin cream.

Since we were staying in a rented beach house, we had to make do with the supplies that were in the kitchen. It goes without saying that there was no “large, stainless steel pot” for cooking a big batch of soup. I ended up splitting it as evenly as I could between two pots. Our shopping resources were also limited and so we left out the chile flakes and saffron.

I made my own shrimp stock earlier in the week and stored it in the freezer. We’d grilled some shrimp and I asked my brother to save the heads and shells for me. I’ve never had commercial shrimp stock, so can’t really compare the flavor. But the flavor of this broth was excellent.

2. Remove the thyme, add fish sauce and season to taste. Add the seafood and tomatoes and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Feel free to swap out some of the seafood and use whatever is fresh and available. We couldn’t find sea bass and chose to use tilapia. Ask your fish monger for suggestions if you can’t find the exact fish called for.

Of course you know not to overcook the seafood. When the clams or mussels start to open up, that means they’re done. You know this, I’m just giving you a gentle reminder. Because you don’t want to be gnawing on rubbery seafood at the dinner table, right?

3. Ladle into large heated bowls, making sure everyone has one crab claw and two clams.

Be sure to serve your Cioppino with some crusty bread for sopping up all that yummy broth.

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