Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shrimp and Scrod Soup

Today started out sunny, but cold. Then it slowly turned cloudy, hazy--that hazy shade of winter, you know? It is December, last time I checked. By dinnertime it was slowly raining, cold and foggy. We were in by 4 o'clock, down in the basement where we have our wood stove. Sounds weird to have a stove in the basement, right? But it's cozy and a little like a den from the seventies, or a rec room, if you will. For numerous reasons, it was the right thing to put the stove in the basement, and now it's the equivalent to our porch in the summer. In the winter we spend all of our time downstairs, hunkered down in the bunker. It's a furnished basement; didn't everyone have them in the seventies? Well, maybe not my family, but all my friends did. Half skeleton and half plush, it was where you and all your friends would hang out with cookies and milk, and then, fast forward a few years, whatever you could find in the liquor cabinet. Maybe there was a dart board (we have one), and perhaps a record player (check), and probably also a oddly stocked bar, containing creme de menthe and some crappy gin (odd? yes, crappy? no).

I stepped out on the porch tonight, while a rich and tomato-y broth waited for me in the kitchen, simmering away, as I finished my last sip of wine. Waiting for what, you ask? To put the fish and shrimp in, so they could poach quickly and be finished off with parsley and Pernod. I took my time on the now defunct porch, taking in all the sounds: the howl of the fire alarm siren, the distant, slow choogle of the freight trains running, the sad, quiet patter of the rain. All the lights in the distance from neighbors' porches had a fuzzy glow about them, and I breathed in the air, wet and cold, and thought, here is December. It only gets colder from here on out.

And so, I turned in to the kitchen, warm and sputtering with the shimmery red broth waiting for me to slip in the shrimp and scrod, to finish it's duty to warm our souls on this gently wintry night.

Saute chopped garlic in olive oil. Add one large diced onion, and one peeled, diced carrot. Bay leaf, please! Slowly, one quart of shrimp stock (or some fish stock). One can of peeled tomatoes. Let that business simmer for a while if you can handle it, adding some oregano, fennel, salt, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper. When it's all looking and smelling right, and you are ready to eat, ease in a half pound of shrimp (I kept them in the shells; more work and yes, messy, but more flavor) and a half pound of homely, but proud, scrod. A handful of chopped fresh parsley, a tablespoon of Pernod, if you have it, and then sit down by the fire and sup.


  1. No basement, eh. You are right,
    but the soup looks great, red,
    hearty and hot!


  2. What a lovely and enticing post to winter's pleasures. I love your mini bouillabaise. I make a similar version often , using pacific cod and dry vermouth instead of pernod. I think I will try your version with pernod and fennel and shrimp and add some orange rind as well.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    P.S. Jealous of the stove in the basement.

  3. Perfect soup for cold weather!

  4. Thanks, Mamou!

    Dane, Orange rind and vermouth! I like that a lot. I'm inspired back. The stove is cool, I must admit...

    True, Ellie, and not too heavy, which is nice!

  5. Soup looks terrific. I like adding Pernod too! I noticed it got a little warmer today.

  6. Thanks, Christine! Yes, it was warmer and today is pretty brilliant too!