Papa’s Zuppa di Pesce

“Zuppa di Pesce” = Soup of Fish

Zuppa di Pesce

My father, a native of Venezia, Italy, grew up in a household where the Mediterranean diet reigned as life’s golden rule. My nonna taught him a lot about how to prepare clams, fish, and seafood of all types. I spent a good portion of my childhood summers traveling along the Western coastline of Italy, as well as in Venice. Whenever we’d visit a restaurant on the coast, my father and I would always keep our eyes peeled for our favorite Italian classic: Zuppa di Pesce. It’s like a hodgepodge of the freshest fish from the day’s market in a tomato broth, flavored with the aromas of parsley and basil. Having never passed up the opportunity to order it when available on a restaurant menu in Italy, I decided to finally discover how I can bring along this spectacular dish with me in my journeys outside Italia. As it turns out, my father has been holding onto the “zuppa knowledge” he inherited from Nonna all this time. Well, he finally passed on the baton to me last Mother’s Day.

A mother's day cheesecake (*Note: cheesecake recipe not included in this post; it is still concealed in the BenGusto recipe holdings).

A mother’s day cheesecake I decorated (*Note: cheesecake recipe not included in this post; it is still concealed in the BenGusto recipe holdings).

This soup doesn’t involve any crazy techniques or in-depth knowledge of seafood, but it is time consuming. Luckily, it can be made up to two days in advance. It is a show-stopper, and, like any fine wine, improves with age (until it reaches about the fourth day in the fridge).

5/10/15

Papa’s Zuppa di Pesce

Level: Medium-Hard        Prep Time: 45 minutes        Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

– 1/3 cup Olive Oil

– ½ tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes

– 4 cloves chopped Garlic

– 1 large Leek

– 2 Green Onions

– 1 cup Dry White Wine

– 3 cups Vegetable Broth

– 10 small Potatoes (gold, purple, and/or red)

– 28 oz. (1 lb.) of Tomato Puree, unsalted

 

– 1 lb. Halibut Filet (use any white, sturdy fish that doesn’t flake apart)

– 0.7 lb. Swordfish Steak (or substitute for more halibut)

– 3 Lobster Tails

– 30 Clams

– 15 Mussles

 

– 1 tbsp. Absinthe

– 6 large leaves Basil

– ½ cup chopped Parsley

– 2 tsp. Salt

– 2 tsp. ground Black Pepper

 

To clean the clams of sand, place them in a large, deep sink or basin and close the drain. Turn on the faucet and beat the clams around the sink with your hands for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, clean the clams by placing them in a strainer under running water for 6-8 minutes.

The sand can be released from the clams by running them under water for about 7 minutes.

The sand can be released from the clams by running them under water for about 7 minutes.

 

Place 1 cup of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Over medium-high heat, steam the clams in the water and cover the pot until they open completely (about 5 minutes). Next, steam the lobster tails in the covered pot until they take on a white color (about 5 minutes). Drain and set both aside.

Clams

Steaming the lobster tails in a pot covered a filled 1/8 the way of water.

Steaming the lobster tails in a pot covered a filled 1/8 the way of water.

Lobster Tails

Dice the fish into cubes. Make sure that whatever fish you use is sturdy and white, and doesn’t break apart easily. Set aside.

Swordfish (it is expensive and controversial, so feel free to use another sturdy fish as a substitute).

Swordfish (it is expensive and controversial, so feel free to use another sturdy fish as a substitute).

Halibut and Swordfish

Halibut and Swordfish

 

Dice the small potatoes (red, purple, and/or gold potatoes) into chunks. Set aside.

 

Dice the potatoes into chunks.

Dice the potatoes into chunks.

Pour the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the red pepper flakes and chopped garlic, and heat over low heat to infuse the flavors together.

 

Olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic

Olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic

Chop the leek into thin rings, and rinse them in a strainer, tossing the rings in your hands under running water to ensure that no sand or dirt is hiding between the cracks. Chop the green onion into thin rings. Add both to the oil in the pot, and continue to heat over low heat.

 

Chop the leeks

Chop the leeks

Leek

Once the leek and onion soften (about 3 minutes), add the white wine and stir. Turn up the heat to high. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth.

Add the diced potatoes, tomato puree, and pinch of salt to the pot.

Add the halibut, swordfish, lobster tails, clams, mussels (the mussels are still uncooked, but will open up in the soup), absinthe (optional), chopped basil, chopped parsley, black pepper, and salt. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to a simmer.

 

Adding the absinthe to the soup. It contains a beautiful hint of fennel.

Adding the absinthe to the soup. It contains a beautiful hint of fennel.

Pour in a cup of water and let simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy with a fluffy white loaf of bread (preferably lightly grilled), parsley, and cracked black pepper. Remember, this soup gets better each day (until it reaches its shelf life of 3 days), so don’t be afraid to make this ahead! Buon appetito!

I just like the simplicity of this photo.

I just like the simplicity of this photo.

Buon appetito!

Buon appetito!

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