When we lived in Omaha, we discovered this soup in a little DUMP (Don't Underestimate My Pick)....We have tried it at a variety of restaurants since we moved, but we couldn't find another version that we liked as much as the one in Omaha. My mother loved it so much that my husband bought quarts of it, packed in a cooler and carried it on the plane with him when he went to Omaha for a business trip. Those were the days...
Until I learned the art of a delicate sofrito, I couldn't replicate the recipe--it was too similar to my cioppino. I don't know if it's called "Soup of the Seven Seas" because it is supposed to have 7 kinds of seafood, or it's a reference to the 7 seas...but you can fill your bowl with a tasty broth and your favorite seafood. I hope you will use the tentacles and a cluster of snow crab legs...they just look so cool climbing out of the bowl.
Now the squid or calamari either need to simmer for a day or be flash sauteed. I like to saute the baby tentacles...but however you do this, this is a satisfying main course soup. We usually serve this with a crusty bread although we always say that tortillas would be a good choice! - lorigoldsby —lorigoldsby
Test Kitchen Notes
The highlight of this dish is the warming, aromatic broth. Definitely take the effort to make the broth with the prawn shells (don’t forget the heads!) -- I only boiled them for 30 minutes due to time constraints, but that was sufficient to impart great flavor with the beautiful soffritto base. As there were no details in the method on where/how to use the spices, I took the liberty of roasting the garlic (skins on) in a dry skillet and sautéed the pulp with a deseeded, chopped chilli and the cumin (I only had whole seeds) before adding it all to the soffritto. The saffron I added at the last minute just before ladling the soup into bowls. For the seafood, I used frozen and defrosted calamari and tentacles, which in itself tenderises the calamari, so I found this a very quick way to prepare this soup -- no need for beating or boiling all day. For those looking to prepare this in a shorter time, there is a way! - Emiko —Emiko
Sofrito and Seafood Stock
small onion, finely chopped
small stalks of celery and leaves, diced
large carrot, diced
green, yellow and red peppers
bay leaves (preferably fresh)
cloves of roasted garlic
campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
shells from 4 pounds of shrimp
threads of saffron
Seafood Mix for the Soup
13-15 shrimp (patted dry)
snow crab clusters
each clams and mussels
large scallops (patted dry)
calamari, plus more if needed to get 6 "baby tentacles" (tentacles patted dry)
mahi mahi or other thick white fish
limes, juiced and zested
bottle negro modelo beer
dried chili powder (guajillo)
In This Recipe
To make your sofrito and shrimp stock, heat olive oil and bacon in dutch oven and cook until right before bacon browns.
Remove bacon and saute vegetables until tender.
Add shrimp shells and cover with water. Simmer for at least 4 hours.
If using the body of the calamari--pound with a meat tenderizer--, cut it into small rings and add it to the stock to simmer all day. Alternatively, send it to the spa for a massage. Refrigerate "feelers" or baby tenatacles, setting aside for later
Prepare cilantro-lime gremolata. Combine lime zest and kosher salt to make a paste and add in half of the chopped cilantro.
when ready to serve: Strain stock and bring up to a gentle boil. Add clams, mussels, and snow crab clusters. Remove clams and mussels after 5 minutes, or when opened. Continue cooking crab clusters another 3-5 minutes.
In a screaming hot saute pan, drop in shrimp, scallops and calamari. Allow to "stick", then turn and add spices, then quickly deglaze pan with a knob of butter and the negro modelo
As soon as the shrimp is pinked up and the scallops are opaque, divide the seafood into the individual serving bowls. Add the clams and mussels and arrange the snow crab clusters with the joint side down and "crawling" out of the bowl.
Combine the deglazed pan with the stock and allow beer to evaporate (approx. 3 min) Add the juice of the limes to your taste (try adding by thirds so that you can control the flavor.)
Pour combined stock over the seafood and a sprig of cilantro. Sprinkle the lime gremolata sparingly on top. Can garnish with additional lime wedges, if desired.
I learned to cook with my Gran. I can still see her reading a recipe and figuring out how she would make it better. She was fearless about substituting ingredients--but also knowledgeable. She approached food in the same way she built her antique business--appreciate quality ingredients and workmanship, but don't be a snob. I think I carry those same beliefs in my approach to cooking. I love family style dinners, I love a fancy ladies' luncheon with my wedding china, or a backyard seafood boil to celebrate my husband's birthday...I love to share food with others.