Friday, March 22, 2013

Scallop Soup

This is a model for almost any seafood you want to make into a soup.  The recipe has very few required ingredients and is darn fast to pull together.  Yes, it is a cream soup.  Your body likes dairy so don’t fret.  You can use a low fat version of milk here.  Also, the amount of butter used is minimal but if you are cutting back on that sort of thing, you can thicken the soup without a butter and flour-based roux.  I’ll show you how. 

Scallop Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients
Scant amount of butter or olive oil (enough to coat bottom of medium soup pot)
1 celery stalk, diced
½ medium onion, about ¼ cup diced
2 small baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14-ounce can low sodium chicken broth
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
1 cup bay scallops, frozen is fine
¾-1 cup low fat milk
salt and pepper to taste, chopped parsley, dill or chives
Optional: ½ cup frozen or drained canned corn (cooked fresh corn is nice in season)

Roux
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour

Or substitute 1 tablespoon corn starch stirred into an ounce of cold liquid (water is fine).   Remember, the starch in the potato also helps thicken the soup.

Method
  1. In a medium-large lidded pot, saut√© celery and onion until limp in a little olive oil or butter.   
  2. If you are using the roux method to thicken, add the tablespoon of butter and melt.  Once melted, stir in the flour so that it coats the vegetables.   
  3. Stir in potatoes, broth and clam juice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered until potatoes are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.  
  4. Add scallops or other uncooked fish.  It is OK to add the scallops frozen.  Bring to a simmer again, then add milk.  
  5. If using cornstarch to thicken your soup, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into the milk- be sure it is dissolved, before adding to the soup.  (If you forget this step, just dissolve the cornstarch into a small amount of cold liquid and add to soup).  Cornstarch needs a few minutes to simmer in liquid to do its job as a thickener.  
  6. Stir occasionally while the soup simmers for another 3-5 minutes and seafood gently cooks.  
  7. At this point you can add any extra cooked vegetables (corn, asparagus, peas, etc) and/or additional fish (see below).  
  8. Taste your soup and add salt and pepper.  Be aware that clam juice adds some salty flavor. 

Variations
Just about any seafood can be used in this soup base instead of scallops.  Try chunks of cod or other white fish, bi-valves like mussels or clams, leftover cooked fish, like the broiled salmon in my fridge from last night, or canned fish like tuna or salmon. If the protein you are adding is already cooked, stir it in last and heat gently just before serving.  Adjust the seasoning to bring out the best of what you have on hand.  For whitefish, dill is nice.  Canned tuna can get perk-up form a little tarragon or thyme and mussels will flourish with some paprika (or a pinch of saffron).