The lenten season is over. My favorite seasonal bread pudding, capirotada, is off the menu until next year in local Mexican restaurants. Fortunately, many offer Caldo de Pescado, (fish soup) year ’round so all is not lost.
Last night was chilly and called for a Mexican style fish soup. I didn’t want to go out to a restaurant. How difficult could it be, I figured, so it was a quick trip to the store and back to the kitchen to play with my food!
Caldo de Pescado al Jim
Ingredients to play with
For starters, there are plastic packets of ready cut vegetables for caldo in most of our groceries. I picked up one that had a wedge of cabbage, two carrots, two small potatoes, a shucked ear of corn, a small onion, a Mexican gray squash, half a turnip, a lemon and two jalapeños. I picked up another ear of corn and two small potatoes to be sure there was enough. Good thing I did; the corn in the package had started to dry up and one potato was past its prime. That spur of the moment decision saved the day.
Better than Bullion cooking bases are a staple in my pantry and refrigerator. They are thick pastes reduced from meats and vegetables. While salty, they are not as salty as bullion cubes and ever so much better. They come as beef, chicken, vegetable and fish bases and are the company is starting to offer lower sodium versions.
I used a good size dutch oven about 3/4 full of water and roughly three tables spoons of fish base for starters. That’s easier than the tradition Mexican recipes calling for boiling grouper heads and bones to make a broth. Besides, being from El Paso, it wouldn’t know a grouper if I met one..
One Mexican thing was boiling the potatoes and carrots separately because they are starchy and can cloud the water. The other vegetables went into the dutch oven for about 20 minutes. As the veggies were got tender, I added a pound of bite size chunks pacific cod for an additional 10 minutes. Pacific cod is firm yet tender and not too fishy tasting. It is still reasonably priced. Next came a half pound of raw shrimp peeled and tails clipped before going into the soup. A can of diced tomatoes (non-traditional ingredient) rounded out the flavors of the broth. Just before serving, the potatoes and carrots went into the big pot and it was all stirred together.
On the side, lemon wedges, a seeded and sliced jalapeño and a bottle of Franks Red Hot Sauce stood by to liven things up.
This first-time fish soup goes on the “Let’s have it again” list.