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…OK, I admit right off the bat I didn’t use Fava beans in my version (*ducks behind the sofa*), but this still is some GOOD STUFF in a bowl.  And I smile and remember my hilarious (and Danish) co-worker’s Facebook comment that I’m turning into the “Soup Master.”  Well, I humbly am not but I appreciate her compliment and humor (she’s a great friend too).  I am just a (middle-aged) girl in the Seattle suburbs with a passion for making soups from scratch.  Just executing/attempting on other’s recipes and not coming up with my own, save for what I ad lib and substitute where needed.  And having a blast along the way.

Today (Saturday) was one of those days where a big batch of soup was the perfect antidote to a tough end of the week.  I’ll save the recap for tomorrow’s post, however.  It did involve an extremely rainy day and a change into illegal, ripped-up leggings once I got home, just as a preview.

Let’s get down to the good stuff:  Chupe de Pescado con Habas Verdes (Fish chowder with fresh Fava beans)  Serves 6.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground annatto or sweet paprika
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 medium-sized ripe but firm tomatoes (about 10 oz), peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 T fresh mirasol pepper puree, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 T plus 1/4 C minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 3 C fish stock or chicken broth
  • 1/4 C long-grain rice
  • 4 medium-sized all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1″ thick
  • 1 1/2 lb firm white-fleshed fish fillets such as sea bass, monkfish, catfish or halibut, cut into 6 pieces
  • 3/4 C shelled fava beans, blanched and peeled, or fresh peas
  • 2 ears corn, each cut into 3 pieces, or 1 C fresh corn kernels
  • 5 oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1 C milk, or more if needed
  • 1 large egg (optional), lightly beaten
  • 8 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large, heavy saucepan (I used a 6-quart Calphalon pan, wider than it’s tall), heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the annatto/paprika, onion, garlic paste, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper puree, 2 T of the cilantro, oregano, cumin and sugar.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the mixture is like a thick sauce, about 20 minutes.  Add a little water while the tomatoes are cooking if the mixture begins to get dry.  Add the fish stock and simmer for 15 minutes.  The soup can be prepared ahead up to this point.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate up to overnight.

To finish, bring the soup back to a boil, add the rice and potatoes, and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the fish, fava beans and corn and simmer for 8 minutes.  Add the cheese and milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the milk has heated through.  The soup should have the consistency of heavy cream; add more milk or water if it is too thick. (Keep in mind that potato-based soups thicken as they stand.) Taste for salt and white pepper.  If using the egg, add in a stream and stir until it forms strands.  Just before serving, stir in the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes, until they turn pink and begin to curl.

To serve, in each soup plate place 1 piece of fish, a couple of shrimp, 3 or 4 potato slices, and 1 piece of corn (if using ears of corn). Ladle the chowder over these, sprinkle each plate with some of the remaining 1/4 C cilantro, and serve immediately.

Fivenineteen notes:  Wow, this is a delicious chowder!  And while I like to first make new recipes exactly as they’re written, I took a few liberties right off the bat with this one due to – admittedly – some laziness.

I could not find Fava beans at my nearby QFC (grocery store).  So I decided to just go with the frozen peas I knew I had in the freezer and let them thaw out a bit before adding to the chowder. 

I used 3 potatoes instead of 4.  For some reason, the 4th one I peeled tonight to get sliced up was an oddly weird and pale shade and full of too many moldy spots after peeling.  Just a flukey thing, so into the trash it went.  I figured it was worth the risk of too few potatoes versus having one that was not up to par.

The Mirasaol pepper puree?  I didn’t feel like making it from scratch (maybe I’m still gun shy thanks to my leaky blender, heh)  and could not find it in the grocery store either.  I’d decided to substitute my favorite hot cayenne pepper sauce made by Trappeys.  But I’m glad I picked up a backup plan of a hot Mexican hot sauce at the grocery store just in case, because when I got home, I noticed my trusty bottle of Trappey’s was near-empty and greyish red.  Not the happy, vibrant color it usually is.  I took a tiny taste of it on my finger and yep, it’s gone stale.  It’s great stuff and I’ve placed an online order to get restocked meanwhile, as it’s no longer at my nearby QFC.  Be SURE to find a good, hot cayenne or Habanero pepper sauce for this chowder if you are opting not to make the Mirasol pepper puree from scratch!

The aroma of this chowder is heavenly.  And I opted for a seafood stock (rather than using chicken broth) from Bar Harbor Foods.  I appreciated that it was all-natural…and at over $4.00 for a 2-cup can it better be great, right?  I needed 2 cans to get 3 cups of stock for the recipe. (and it was fantastic, by the way).

Given I splurged a bit on the stock, I opted to choose the local store brand version of basmati (long-grain) rice, rather than the pricier Texmati brand I’ve used prior.  I don’t have a lot of rice typically in my pantry save for the type suited for risotto.

And…I chose sole fillets for the fish.  I was surprised at how they broke up into tiny pieces after adding to the chowder, even after cutting into large pieces and stirring gently.  I’m not sure if that’s because they were sole (vs. another type of white fish) or not. 

I breathed a sigh of relief when it was time to add the cheese and milk to the chowder.  The recipe was turning into more like a super thick stew at this point than a soup/chowder in the making.  I was sooo tempted to add more water or a splash of stock or white wine meanwhile, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I sliced the potatoes less than an inch thick.  And as they were cooking I ended up cutting them with my stirring spatula into smaller pieces.  I like the idea of adding slices to each soup plate for serving, but in my case they were not cooking through thoroughly in thick slices.

And…the cheese.  Either I spaced it or the grocery store did not have goat cheese (Chevre), so I sprung for some gorgonzola.  This actually added a nice tang and punch to the chowder without overpowering it.

Here’s the author’s notes on this recipe: “There is nothing better than a bowl of chupe on a cold winter night.  I especially like this variation from Peru because it is flavored with hot peppers and, instead of peas, it uses fava beans.  This chowder can be made with either fish or shrimp, or a mixture of both.  Peruvians always add eggs before serving.  They either stir in the lightly beaten eggs or put one poached egg in each soup plate and pour the soup on top.  This is a hearty soup that can be used as a main course for a light supper.”

Buon appetito!

From The South American Table, by Maria Baez Kijac.

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