This is not a cheap dish, but I love fish and seafood so I splurged last night. I was in
Dubuque and could shop a
big market where they have a selection of seafood. I was surprised at how far some of it had
come to get to the mid west. I was
pretty selective in my purchase and
where it came from.
5 strips of bacon
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves (3 for soup and 1 for steaming mussels)
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
2 cups chicken or fish stock
1 cup dry white wine (Optional but if you do not use it add another cup of broth or stock)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (OK to use the frozen southern hash browns or about 5 potatoes)
1 tsp. thyme (fresh if you can get it). I had to use my dried thyme from my garden.
1 pound halibut
1 pound small frozen shrimp
1 pound fresh mussels
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Prep work: Thaw your fish and shrimp. I use the small frozen shrimp that has no tails and has been cleaned already. My halibut was also frozen.
Chop your onions and garlic by putting them in a food processor. Saves tears. I chop mine until they are mush.
Cut up your bacon. I like to use a kitchen scissor and cut it up into ½ pieces.
Peel and chop your potatoes into small bite sized pieces and set aside.
Steam the mussels until they open and set aside (if you can’t find mussels, add a can of clams). To steam mussels add a can of chicken broth, a tsp. of chopped garlic (I buy the jar of pre-chopped garlic for just such occasions) and a good pinch of salt. Rules in dealing with mussels: Make sure you check them over carefully. Make sure the beards are completely gone. If the mussel is open before you cook them tap it on the counter. If it does not close throw it away. Put the lid on your pot for a few minutes and let them steam. After steaming for a couple of minutes, check to make sure they all opened. If they did not open, toss them out. Leave them in the juices on low heat until you need them. You’ll add them last to the soup.
In a large, heavy Dutch oven, fry up the bacon until it is crisp. Add the butter to the pot. Sauté the onions in the bacon drippings along with the bacon and butter until transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the flour, stirring constantly for a few minutes, until the roux turns slightly golden.
Stir in the stock, wine, potatoes and thyme and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat).
Stir often to keep the soup from burning or sticking to the bottom of the soup pot. Cut the white fish into bite sized chunks and add to the pot. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until the fish is just opaque and then add your shrimp and cook a couple more minutes.
Stir in the cream and simmer on low until just heated through, making sure not to let the soup boil (you do not want it to curdle). Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. You may add the mussels now. I also add the juices from the mussels with the garlic and salt to the soup for the extra flavor. Let simmer a little longer to make sure the soup is hot to serve.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and make sure you top each bowl with several steamed mussels. If you are using clams to replace the mussels, you can add the entire can when you add the cream. Honestly though, mussels are one of my most favorite foods and I think they add a great deal even in the presentation. Hope you can find them. I got fresh mussels at HyVee.
Serve it up with some toasted garlic bread to sop up all the soup broth. Sprinkle the sliced bread with a little olive oil and garlic powder and put the bread under the broiler until toasted. I used a baguette.
Note: The original recipe called for a pinch of saffron and I decided not to put it in. It has a very strong taste and I did not want to overwhelm the soup with it by taking away from the delicate seafood flavors. You may add it if you like. Also you can use regular milk to replace the cream, but I like the richness of the cream. You decide if you want to cut the fat.
It is a great soup for a cold winter’s day. Have a great day. Be happy and may God bless you and yours.