Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Feast of One Fish

Growing up, the Christmas Eve meal was traditional Italian fare, complete with The Feast of the Seven Fishes. Stuffed clams, shrimp cocktail, stuffed calamari, eel, smelts, fried flounder, fried scallops, fried shrimp. It was best to wear pants with an elastic waistband because you were busting at the seams when you finally walked away from the table.

It's a time-honored tradition, and while we don't host Christmas Eve, my husband and I wanted to have it on a smaller scale, just the two of us. When we saw Giada DeLaurentiis make this soup, we knew we had found the dish for our mini-feast.

Admittedly, I was apprehensive at first. Along with the fishes a traditional food on an Italian table is fennel. Served raw with fruits and nuts after the fried fish, it's not one of my favorite foods. I'm not a huge fan of the anise flavor, even though it aids with digestion and Lord knows after eating all that food you need all the help you can get. I almost omitted the fennel from this recipe, but while shopping for the ingredients I decided to trust Giada and include it.

Boy, was I glad I did!

Fennel cooked in soup tastes nothing like raw fennel. I enjoyed the flavor so much I swapped fennel for celery in most soups I make.

Whether you're looking for a new dish to include in your own feast or just a new soup to try this winter, this is one to add to your list to make this season. Make sure you have some crusty bread on hand, though. You'll need it to sop up every delicious drop of this broth.

Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino
Recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis
Total time: 35 minutes
Makes 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Ladle the cioppino into soup bowls and serve with crusty bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment