Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ocean Whitefish Soup

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...There comes a time in prolonged home renovation projects, when the urge to use a hammer on the next workman you see becomes compelling. At that point you have two choices. Spend the rest of your life in the slammer or get as far away from the confusion as you possibly can. I chose the later. The Silver Fox and I headed to  Florence on the Oregon coast for a meal at one of our favorite restaurants, the Bridgewater. There are restaurants on the coast that have better views, but this is our destination  when we are hungry and want truly good seafood. The place is old and crowded and has a decor reminiscent of vintage restaurants in Key West. Hemingway would feel right at home here and would probably make the Zebra bar his watering hole. Hunger, not thirst, brought us here, so we left the bar to others and grabbed the first table we could find. I scanned the menu and found a dish called Ocean Food Soup. I had not seen it before and the unusual name made me curious, so I decided to give it a try. It was a great choice. The soup is like a poor man's cioppino. It has the same winy, briny sauce as its more expensive cousin, but has no shellfish or clams and relies on ocean white fish for protein. Tonight's feature is my attempt to recreate the Bridgewater's Ocean Food Soup in my kitchen. I came close, but I must admit I still have some work to do. The soup I created is really delicious but it is not the soup I tasted yesterday. Despite that, those of you who enjoy fish stews and soups will really like this. While the recipe looks involved it is not hard to make. The chopping is a pain in the neck, but once it is done you are home free. Do try it. I've asked for the Bridgewater recipe and when I get it I promise to share it with you. Till then, here is my version of their wonderful soup.

Ocean Whitefish Soup
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped fennel
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 cups dry vermouth
1/2 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 cups clam broth
1 (28-oz.)can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 pounds pacific cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
Chopped parsley for garnish

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, and fennel and cook, stirring often, until softened but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in tomato paste, vermouth and sherry wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and clam broth, then add tomatoes and reserved tomato juice. Stir in oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. Puree with immersion blender.
2) Add cod and shrimp to soup. Cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle soup into large bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately with garlic bread. Yield: 4 servings.

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