Friday, September 5, 2014

Foodie Fridays: Italian seafood soup

I fell in love with Italian seafood soup the first time I tasted it in a small Italian restaurant in Germany. For some strange reason, the Germans seem to love Italian food, and there are Italian eateries everywhere in Germany. Perhaps it is because you can only eat that much potatoes, bratwrust and meat each day.

Anyway, we were introduced to this lovely little restaurant by a friend, and it served the most wonderful seafood soup: hearty, and full of the flavours of the sea. It was especially good during the winter, to come in with freezing fingers and fill our tummy with some steaming hot soup and crusty bread. The soup is rich enough to hold its own, and can be a meal by itself with some bread on the side.

Back in Singapore, this soup has always been on my try-to-cook list. However, I never got down to cooking it, because most of the recipes I found flavoured their soup with prawns and shellfish, which Lil J was allergic to. I didn't fancy having to slave over the stove for a soup that required me to cook an additional meal for Lil J, not especially when I was already cooking a separate meal for baby J. So the seafood soup never made it to the table.

Then recently, I found this recipe, which used squid to flavour the soup. The recipe still called for shellfish and shrimp, however, the main ingredient used was squid. So I took the risk, omitted the former two, and just used more squid. I also substituted fish stock (of which I had in my freezer) to replace the clam broth.

What I didn't count on was all the cleaning I had to do to prepare the squid. We hardly eat seafood, since I am not a fan, and Lil J cannot eat many seafood-related dishes. So this was my first time having to deal with squid. We only managed to get the smaller squid at the supermarket, so I had about 15 of these slimy fellows to clean out:

So it was 1.5 hours to dinnertime and I was staring helplessly at these creatures, who seemed to be looking at me accusingly from the chopping board. I resorted to using Google, and learnt how to clean these squid through a video, as well as how to core the fennel bulb.

After struggling with all the slime, all 15 were finally cleaned, peeled and prepared, and into the pot they went (you never realize how many tentacles these fellows have, until you have to remove all their suckers!). The smells coming from our dutch oven were heavenly. The boys came running to ask me what was cooking.

Dinner was a little late that night, but man, the soup was good. Even without the shellfish and prawns. The boys loved it, and I loved that Lil J could drink the soup and we didn't need to worry about antihistamines or rashes. Hubby declared it a 10/10. (Btw, the soup can be frozen, however, it is best to add fresh fish when recooking the frozen portion.)

All in all, this is going to be something we'll be cooking again, however, the next time we're going to hunt for larger squid, and I think I'm going to teach Lil J how to clean these creatures so that he can help me with it. It'll be killing two birds with one stone: he gets to play with slime, and I get my squid cleaned. Hopefully!

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