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Jan 16, 2009 10:23 AM

What sort of seafood soup from these ingredients in my freezer?

I seem to have collected the ingredients for some sort of seafood soup or stew in my freezer, but since I've never even made seafood stock before, I'm at a loss as to how to proceed.

I have:
2 lobster carcasses - with a tiny amount of meat left on them, but not much.
Lots of shrimp shells (from a few pounds of shrimp).
Some frozen halibut and frozen tilapia - I've never before put fish into my home freezer so I'm not sure that they won't be disgusting - but that's why I figure my best shot is some sort of soup. The halibut was lovely freshly caught from a local guy who sells at my greenmarket. The tilapia was from a fishmarket, so surely previously frozen.

I also have the tops from lots of leeks that I've been saving for making stock, so would like to use them either now or I can save them for a chicken stock.

I certainly will buy more fish/seafood to augment. Ideas of how to proceed, both in terms of technique and flavors?

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  1. If that was my stuff, I'd make a stock w/ the lobster, shrimp shells and leeks. Then I'd make a little base mix of onion tomato and a touch of saffron, deglaze w/ splash of white wine,throw in the nice shellfish stock, and then gently poach the fish in the brothy goodness. (I'm assuming the fish will be fine from your freezer if it is wrapped well.) Add a little parsley and a baguette and you should be in business.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lucygoosey

      You should definitely make a seafood stock using the leeks, but be forewarned that it may not amount to much volume by the time it's reduced to the point of having sufficient flavor. Supplement with bottle clam juice, clamato, or base (Better Than Bouillon's chicken and beef bases are carried in most supermarkets, and some carry more BTB varieties, which include clam and lobster).

      I'm sure you'll get lots of Asian-flavors suggestions, but I'd choose either to make cream-based fish chowder or to add some canned tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic, and a few herbs such as Old Bay seasoning, thyme, oregano, chervil, and/or saffron. Serve with crusty bread. You'll get lots of inspiration if you search recipes for bouillabaise and cioppino. .

    2. Yes, make the shellfish stock and then a fish cioppino: add diced tomato, carrot, and sauteed onion; bit of tomato paste previously dry cooked to deepen the flavor; touch of sugar and dab of fish sauce; some fresh squeezed lime juice; cut the fish into bite sized pieces and toss in right at the end.

      1. Thanks all for the great suggestions. I'm slowly morphing from a slavish-recipe-follower to more of an improviser, but don't yet fully trust my instincts. Great to have some advice to help guide me!

        Here's basically what I did based on your advice and glancing at a few seafood stock recipes (mostly Joy of Cooking) and cioppino recipes:
        -cooked shells with carrot, leek tops, celery in oil about 15 mins
        -added tomato paste, water, bay leaf, pernod, crushed peppercorns and cooked about 20 mins

        -sauteed more carrot, onion, green pepper, some more tomato paste, some leftover canned diced tomato, a bit of saffron
        -added stock, salt, ground pepper, brought up temp then put in pieces of fish - let cook for a bit, then added some additional shrimp I had purchased as well as chopped purslane that was in my freezer, and some chopped fresh parsley. Some lime juice and more salt and pepper. I had in reserve the fish sauce (but my husband has lately accused me of over-using fish sauce, an impossibility I think, so I was hesitant to use it when he was watching!) - also a bottle of clam juice, but the stock was nicely flavored and plenty of broth without it.

        Anyway, it was really great! I'll never throw out a shrimp shell again. Really tasty and perfect for the mood we were in - plus I made lots of room in the freezer (the tomato paste was all previously frozen too). I think tonight I'll make some big casserole-y thing that I can freeze portions of . . .

        3 Replies
        1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

          Congrats on successfully winging it! On the other hand, don't fear failure: it's the way we learn! Unless you burn something, it's usually still edible, if not enjoyable. Turning what you once thought of as garbage into a delicious ingredient is as close to alchemy as it gets!

          1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

            i read that thomas keller doesn't use celery in his stocks. i stopped using it and they now lack a bitterness that i always disliked.

            congrats on winging it. soup is so forgiving -- be fearless!

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Have you tried using just celery leaves? I think they are the sweetest part of the celery, and used them both in soup - they just about disappear so they can go right into the final soup, not just the stock - and as a green in salads.