Monday, November 30, 2009
The Best Soups in the World
This December my newest book THE BEST SOUPS IN THE WORLD will be published. This is my 14th book and one of the most fun to write. The title came about partly because I simply spent so much time choosing ones that would go in and so many that didn’t make the cut. Here’s a sample recipe:
Dubrovnik Fish Soup
The proximity of the Italian peninsula and the naval dominance of the Venetian Republic during the Middle Ages resulted in a perceptible Italian culinary influence along the Dalmatian coast, where fish soups are called brodet in Serbo-Croatian, from the Italian brodetto. But this recipe came to me by way of someone calling it in Serbo-Croatian, čorba, deriving not from the Italian, but the Turkish and Arabic words for “soup.” It’s a simple fish boil called riblja čorba na Dubrovaćki naćin, a soup from Dubrovnik which will be successful if you have a good mix of fish, at least four kinds, and a whole fish from which to make the broth. A good mix would be a whole striped bass, whole porgy (scup), and fillets from bluefish, cod, and salmon. You can ask the fishmonger to fillet the whole fish for you, keeping the heads, tails, and carcass for the broth.
3 1/2 pounds mixed fish steaks, pieces, heads, carcasses (see above), including whole fish, cut-up
12 cups water
Sea salt to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 large ripe tomato (about 1/2 pound), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup medium grain rice
1. Place the fish heads, tails, and carcasses (1 to 1 1/2 pounds all together) in a large pot and cover with 6 cups of the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the fish broth through a cheesecloth-lined strainer and set aside. You should have about 1 quart fish broth.
2. Pour the remaining 6 cups of water into a large pot and season with sea salt. Add the wine, tomato, parsley, oil, peppercorns, and bay leaf and bring to a rolling boil. Add the fish pieces to the boiling broth one at a time and boil furiously for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring the reserved fish broth to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, add the rice, and cook until almost tender (times vary, so keep checking). Turn the heat off.
4. Put about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the cooked rice in each individual serving bowl using a slotted ladle. Ladle the fish with broth over the rice and serve.
Makes 4 servings