Fish Soup with Vegetables
Felidia - New York, NY
I love all kinds of Italian fish soups, having sampled countless versions of zuppa di pesce, served with just enough tomatoey sauce to slurp up with a spoon, as well as brodo di pesce, a flavorful fish stock usually with nothing but rice. A new discovery for me, though, was this Molisano version of brodo di pesce, with chard and peppers floating between chunks of seafood in a savory broth. Served with grilled bread or a slab of grilled polenta, it is indeed a complete meal. Relish it with a glass of crispy white wine from the region’s distinctive Falanghina grape varietal, and you can taste Molise beckoning you.
Makes about 4 quarts, serving 8 to 10
- 12 ounces monkfish fillet (silver skin removed)
- 8 ounces sea scallops, preferably “dry” (not soaked in preservatives)
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 5 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 6 quarts cold water
- 1 pound Swiss chard, sliced in 1/2-inch shreds
Slice the monkfish into 1/2-inch chunks. Pull off the side muscle or “foot” from the scallops, and discard. Remove the shells, tails, and digestive vein from the shrimp; rinse them and pat dry.
Pour the olive oil into the soup pot and set it over medium heat. Scatter in the onions, sliced garlic, and peperoncino, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and slightly caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes, then stir in the diced peppers, and cook another 3 minutes or so, until the peppers are tender.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have dried out, about 3 or 4 minutes. Pour in the water and the remaining tablespoon salt, stir well, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil, and cook covered for an hour; then stir in the Swiss-chard shreds. Return the broth to a steady simmer, and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the chard is very tender and the broth has reduced to 4 quarts.
To finish the soup, add the chunks of monkfish to the simmering broth, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Drop in scallops, stir, and simmer for 7 minutes more. Add the shrimp, return the broth to a bubbling simmer, and cook for a minute or two, just until the shrimp are cooked through. Serve immediately in warm shallow soup bowls.