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Catalan fish soup

September 7, 2011

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Serves 4

Claudia Roden writes in “The Food of Spain’’ that she learned this soup from her friend, Pepa Aymami. It starts with sofregit, a mixture of garlic and tomatoes, and is thickened at the end with picada, made with ground almonds, garlic, and parsley. Use hake, cod, or any other white fish.

PICADA

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
10 unblanched whole almonds
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fish or chicken stock

1. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the almonds brown. Drain on paper towels.

2. In a food processor, work the almond mixture, parsley, and stock until ground; set aside.

SOUP

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
1 pound yellow potatoes, cut into thick slices
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt, to taste
Generous pinch of saffron threads
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups fish or chicken stock, or more if necessary
1/2 pound skinless, boneless white fish, such as hake, cod, halibut, monkfish, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeeled

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil. Add the garlic and tomato and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until the tomato is jammy.

2. Add the potatoes, wine, salt, saffron, sugar, and enough stock to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.

3. Add the fish and cook 3 minutes more (5 minutes for monkfish). Add the shrimp and picada and cook for 2 minutes or until the shrimp and fish are firm and cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Adapted from “The Food of Spain’’