Super Seafood Soup
Coastal regions specialize in these one-pot wonders
Every coastal region around the world has a signature seafood soup. Each one is the essence of the sea and the community surrounding it. Historically, the soups were made from the fisherman’s less desirable catch. Simmered in a pot with what they had on hand, it stretched the harvest to feed a family.
My grandma’s conch chowder was our family’s favorite seafood soup, back when harvesting queen conch was legal in Florida. She used a meat grinder to tenderize the conch. The peppers, onions and celery went through the meat grinder as well, mincing the vegetables more finely than she could by hand. She sautéed them in a giant pot with bacon and herbs, and it smelled divine as she layered in all the ingredients. She always made enough for family, friends and neighbors. It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted that soup, but her recipe perfectly distills what I think of as Indian River cuisine.
Over the years, I’ve collected lots of recipes for other regional seafood soups. Let’s be honest, you really can’t go wrong with fresh seafood in a delicious, aromatic broth. Some are outstanding, like Julia Child’s famous bouillabaisse and Paul Prudhomme’s gumbo. But equally good are the recipes I’ve learned from home cooks and fishermen, like my husband’s favorite tom yum soup and the rich salmon chowder I learned to make in Alaska.