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(Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
(Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Weather a cold snap with this piping-hot soup Add to ...

During a cold snap, nothing tastes better than a piping-hot bowl of soup. And if it’s loaded with seafood, even better. For a casual dinner with friends, serve steaming bowlfuls of this one with a small pasta first course or a salad crowned with a six-minute egg. This soup is a cinch to make, but a few tips before you start. When selecting the seafood, look for generously sized scallops and shrimp (20 to a pound or larger). Personally, I prefer white shrimp to black tigers, which tend to have more flavour but a mushier texture. Use bottled passata (pure tomato sauce) for the tomato purée. Dessert should be just as simple. Allow me to suggest apple-and-pear crisp made with demerara sugar in the topping for crunch.

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  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Ready time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped

1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch dice

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

Pinch of saffron

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1 cup white wine

3 cups fish stock

1 cup tomato purée

1 dried chili

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 baguette

1/4 cup butter

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

1 tsp espelette peppers (or chili flakes)

16 mussels or clams

12 oz (375 g) grouper, cut into 1-inch squares

4 large scallops, cleaned

8 large shrimp, peeled

2 squid, cut in 1/4-inch rings

Method

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and fennel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. Stir in saffron, parsley and fennel seeds. Pour in ½ cup wine (reserving remainder) and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then stir in stock and tomato purée. Add dried chili. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until stock is reduced and very tasty. Season well with salt and pepper. Reserve.

While the stock is simmering, slice bread in half lengthwise. Combine butter, mayonnaise, garlic and espelette pepper. Season the flavoured butter with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on each piece of bread and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted and the butter has melted.

Bring remaining 1/2 cup of wine to boil in a medium pot. Add mussels, cover and steam until mussels open, about 3 minutes. Strain broth into soup and reserve mussels.

Reheat soup to a simmer and add grouper, scallops and shrimp. Simmer gently until fish is cooked (about 5 minutes). Stir in squid and let it cook for 2 minutes or until opaque. Add mussels to reheat.

Ladle into 4 soup bowls and drizzle with remaining extra virgin olive oil. Serve with spiced garlic bread.

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