Being an East-Coast girl, I never have any shortage of beautiful, fresh fish available at the market near my house. Being able to talk to the fisherman who pulled my to-be-supper from the sea is only one of the many awesome things about calling the Maritimes home.
But you know where else is awesome?
And I’m going there in just 7 weeks. It’ll be my second time there and I’m just beyond stoked. Hitting the road with my man for a romantic vacay, which will revolve around absolutely sickening quantities of gelato and cheese and sightseeing and wine and gelato. Mark my words…some day I may be at the helm of a gelato empire…or simply the 1# supporting customer of someone’s else’s. I have a deep admiration for the stuff and pledged to eat it every single day last time I visited Italy. And just in case there was any doubt in your mind…I did accomplish that feat. Some days I doubled up. NBD.
In anticipation for my Italian romp, I have been hitting the burpees and laying off the butter. 2012 has been a bonkers year for me, and yep, I’m a little rounder than I’d like to be. So the gym’s back on my daily agenda and the corkscrew has been shelved for a few weeks. It feels good to be working on a squeaky clean diet again and getting creative in the kitchen!
I had a couple of buds over for supper the other night and really wanted to make something special and interesting, yet light. Often when I’m at an Italian restaurant I’ll order the seafood soup as a starter or a light main, and it’s never steered me wrong. Firm chunks of white fish, shellfish, and veggies in a herbed broth; perfect for dunking a crusty wedge of buttered baguette. Top with a some torn basil leaves and little shredded parmesan cheese and you’ll wish that your soup bowl went on for days.
Zuppa di Pesce
Serves 4 (very generous portions)
Generous glug of olive oil
1 onion, small chop
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices bacon, diced
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice (found usually in the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store)
1 cup water/veg broth
4 basil leaves, torn
1 cup cannellini beans (canned or rehydrated)
2 cups swiss chard, chopped
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 lb freshest white fish, like haddock, halibut, cod, monkfish
1 lb cooked, peeled & tailed shrimp
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sautee chopped onions and garlic in large, heavy bottomed pot (I used my Creuset dutch oven) in olive oil on low-med heat until onions are softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, for another few minutes.
Add tomatoes, wine, clam juice, stock/water and basil, and 1 tbsp parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beans and swiss chard. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. At this point you can analyze the thickness and adjust it to your liking. Adding broth to thin it out or simmering a little longer to cook off some of the liquid. Soup’s the best for being oh-so-easy to get along with.
Add the fish and cook for 5 minutes, or until it’s opaque. Add the shrimp and heat through gently for 3 minutes.
Just before serving, adjust the seasoning again to your liking. It will vary for everyone depending on what combination of wine/juice/water/broth you’ve used.
Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately. Best accompanied by a big loaf of crusty Italian bread!