Make Ahead

Sopa de Siete de Mar (Seven Seas Soup)

May  1, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • Sofrito and Seafood Stock
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small stalks of celery and leaves, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 each green, yellow and red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pieces bacon
  • 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs oregano
  • 4 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 4 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • shells from 4 pounds of shrimp
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 threads of saffron
  • Seafood Mix for the Soup
  • 1 pound 13-15 shrimp (patted dry)
  • 6 snow crab clusters
  • 12 each clams and mussels
  • 6 large scallops (patted dry)
  • 1 pound calamari, plus more if needed to get 6 "baby tentacles" (tentacles patted dry)
  • 12 ounces mahi mahi or other thick white fish
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2-3 limes, juiced and zested
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup bottle negro modelo beer
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried chili powder (guajillo)
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 3-4 dashes worchestershire sauce
  1. To make your sofrito and shrimp stock, heat olive oil and bacon in dutch oven and cook until right before bacon browns.
  2. Remove bacon and saute vegetables until tender.
  3. Add shrimp shells and cover with water. Simmer for at least 4 hours.
  4. 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
  5. Prepare cilantro-lime gremolata. Combine lime zest and kosher salt to make a paste and add in half of the chopped cilantro.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lorigoldsby
  • Emiko

Recipe by: lorigoldsby

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.

5 Reviews

lorigoldsby May 19, 2011
I usually add the spices during step the pan while the seafood is searing....sorry about that!
Emiko May 20, 2011
I forgot to ask about that before starting to cook! I absolutely love the cumin in this dish, so I think next time I might even layer the spices by doing both (adding to the stock AND the searing seafood!) :)
Emiko May 19, 2011
I tested this recipe out on some friends. I did have to altar a few ingredients and some of the method because of what is available where I live (Italy), but everyone loved it. The broth (done with the prawn shells and heads) of this soup was amazing - definitely the talk of the table!
lorigoldsby May 19, 2011
Thanks for the notes sounds like you did an excellent job with the spices! So happy that your guests enjoyed it.
lorigoldsby May 12, 2011
If the 4 pounds of shrimp shells is scaring you off from trying this recipe, please feel free to substitute any seafood stock. I just always freeze our shells because I use them in 2 or 3 recipes, so I always have a bag in the freezer.