Italy was known for great food long before the age of the Columbian exchange. Tomatoes and chili peppers were introduced from the new world sometime after Columbus delivered the goods. This zuppa di mare recipe is pre-columbian exchange recipe and it has no tomato in it. Chiara translates to clear. A clear zuppa di mare means no tomato is in the broth.I have seen some zuppa di mare recipes that look more like burrida, ciapino or bouillabaisse. Today's zuppa di mare recipe is very simple and old fashioned. I learned this recipe in a Northern Italian restaurant that I was apprenticing in. The chef said that this was the style of zuppa di mare that he liked the best.
The selection of seafood for making zuppa di mare is a personal choice. The seafood should be a combination shellfish, squid or octopus and fish. Many Venetian chefs like to add baccala (salt cod) to the mixture. I had some sun dried anchovies on hand and they became part of this soup. Sun dried anchovies added a rich fish flavor and they are not salty. Small fingerling fish do look nice in zuppa di mare.
Zuppa di Mare Chiaro:
This recipe makes enough for two medium size bowls of soup. There should be a high proportion of seafood to broth in this soup! The clams at the market looked awful, so none were used in this recipe. Clams are traditional in this zuppa, so add a few if they are available
Cook 2 very small portions of fettucini pasta in boiling water over high heat.
When the fettucini becomes al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
Cool the fettucini under cold running water.
Drain the water off of the fettucini.
Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil on the pasta.
Toss the pasta, so it becomes lightly coated with olive oil.
Set the pasta aside.
Heat a deep saute pan or braising pan over medium heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of sliced garlic.
Saute the garlic, till it turns a light golden color.
Add 1/4 cup of diced celery.
Add 1/4 cup of diced carrot.
Add 1/4 cup of diced onion.
Saute the vegetables, till they start to become tender.
Add 4 1/2 cups of light whitefish broth.
Add 1 small bay leaf.
Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
Add 1 pinch of basil.
Add 1 pinch of minced Italian parsley.
Add sea salt, and black pepper.
Simmer the soup over medium heat, till the soffritto vegetables become tender.
Add 2 chopped imported Italian canned anchovy filets or 1 tablespoon of tiny sun dried anchovies. (optional)
Add 8 ounces of any kind of whitefish filet that is cut into six large pieces.
Add 6 ounces of scallops.
Add 10 to 12 medium size shrimp. (Peel, devein and remove the tails of the shrimp.)
Note: Do not stir the soup after adding the seafood or the fish pieces will break apart!
Return the soup to a gentle boil.
Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
When the seafood becomes fully cooked and the broth is rich with the flavor of fruits of the sea, then it is time to finish the soup!
Remove the bay leaf.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
Add 3 ounces of sliced small squid tops and tentacles. (The squid will cook in just a few seconds, so always add the squid last.)
Add 1/2 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
Center a small portion of the al dente cooked fettucini in a shallow soup bowl.
Use spoon to place the seafood around the pasta in the bowl.
Pour the hot broth over the pasta, so the pasta becomes hot.
You can taste the soothing gentle seafood flavors in every spoonful of this zuppa di mare! The olive oil, garlic, herbs and lemon accent the seafood flavors nicely. Some zuppas center a piece of toasted bread in the soup bowl. A small twist of pasta is also nice. A zuppa di mare does not have to be complicated with extra added ingredients to be great. This is a nice tasting clear zuppa di mare! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna