Week 31, Meal 2: Sea soup

I’m a Bay Area boy, so you know I love my seafood. Some of my earliest memories are spending time with family, shoveling clam chowder into my mouth from a mountainous bowl made of bread.

The second soup of our trio isn’t a creamy soup like my old favorite, but the smokey shrimp broth (which you make yourself) and sweet shreds of crab and fragrant slivers of fennel make this one unforgettable.

Here’s Week 31, Meal 2: Shellfish and tomato soup with grilled baguette.

Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)

4 t olive oil
8 oz. shrimp (26-30 size, or similar, shells on)
1 T smoked paprika
1 pinch saffron
4 cups water
1 bulb fennel, tops removed, cut bulb in 1/4s and slice thin
1 large or 2 small leeks, dark green removed, cleaned well, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 roma tomatoes, cut into 1/8s
8 oz. lump crab meat
1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Grilled baguette
4 1 oz. pieces of baguette, cut on a bias
1 T olive oil

First, remove the shells from the shrimp. I couldn’t find smaller shrimp, so I used bigger ones and cut them down a little. If yours need to be deveined, take the time to do so to prevent the final product from having any grit in it. This matters less for smaller shrimp.

To start the stock, heat 1 t of olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook for 1-2 minutes until they turn pink. Add saffron, smoked paprika and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, simmering for 30 minutes.

In a larger pot, heat the remaining 3 t of olive oil (equivalent to 1 T) over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek, garlic and tomato, and cook for 5-6 minutes until the fennel and tomato have softened.

Using a strainer, pour the shrimp stock into the pot, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low again. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the shrimp and crab and cook for 3-4 minutes until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through.

Finish with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

For the grilled bread–which is convenient to make while the vegetables are simmering–heat the grill to high, brush each piece of bread lightly with olive oil and cook face down until grill marks show and the bread is well toasted.

Season with salt and pepper if you’d like.

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