On Christmas Day our first dinner course was this fabulous seafood soup, courtesy of husband Ramón. It was delicious and, though a wee bit of a “strain” to make, (the prawns and mussels have to be cleared of sea debris several times) it´s well worth it. Here´s Ramón´s recipe – go ahead and try it, you´ll love it!
1 kilo of mussels (mejillones)
1 or 2 monkfish tails (colas de rape)
12 king prawns (gambones)
A [sherry] glass of dry sherry (copita de jeréz, eg. fino or manzanilla)
1 stick celery (apio)
1 leek (puerro)
A few peppercorns (granos de pimienta negra)
1 tomato, peeled and seeded
1 cup vermicelli noodles (fideos)
1 boiled egg
Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (pimienta de cayena)
2 bay leafs (hojas de laurél)
Fresh garlic cloves
Fresh coriander (cilantro)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
YOU WILL NEED
A large sieve, a medium pan, a large pot and a blender.
The secret of any soup is the stock. Here we need 3 to 4 pints of well reduced and sieved fish and seafood stock. Monkfish, though an ugly fish with an ugly name, is one of the best for stock, since it has firm flesh and jellyish bones, giving fantastic flavour and a great consistency.
- Steam the mussels in about a half pint of water and keep the juices. Sieve and filter until clear. Discard any mussels that don´t open.
- Shell the king prawns and keep the tails. Boil the remaining heads and shells in another half pint of water. Sieve and filter until clear and add to the mussel stock.
- Simmer the monkfish tails in two pints of water with a bay leaf, some salt and a couple of whole peppercorns for about half an hour or until it has reduced about 25% and the fish is tender.
- Remove the tails and separate the flesh from the bones. Keep the former and discard the latter.
- Sieve and filter and add to the shellfish stock.
THE SOUP BASE
Vegetables provide lots of flavour and natural goodness to soups. The potato acts as a thickener.
- Heat two tablespoonfuls of olive oil in a pot and when hot, add the leek, potato, tomato and celery, all cut into small pieces.
- Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Add two cloves of garlic, diced, and the cayenne pepper.
- Once the garlic has softened slightly, add the stock and allow to simmer for half an hour.
- In the meantime, boil two eggs until hard (12 minutes). Shell them and split them in half to separate the whites from the yolks. Add the yolks to the soup and process the lot in a blender until smooth, sieving again if necessary. Reserve the whites.
The soup is now ready for all the ”bits” we´re going enjoy to be incorporated:
- the king prawn tails, diced
- the fish meat, flaked
- the white of the boiled eggs, cubed
- a cup and a half of vermicelli, which will provide the carbohydrates. You can add the sherry here too and allow the alcohol to simmer off. When the pasta is done, add a few sprigs of fresh, finely chopped, coriander.