Red Chile Seafood Soup (Caldo de Mariscos)
By Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Chicago, IL

Chef Participant: Cooking for Solutions Conference 2006

Note: Making seafood soup may sound like there's a special occasion in the offing, but that no longer has to be true. With the wide availability of fresh seafood, this version of Mexico's beloved, easily varied coastal soup - even with its super-traditional, robust roasted red chile flavor - is within anyone's reach. Chicken broth provides a rich background, shellfish add that delicious taste of the sea, and epazote gives a classic Gulf Coast flavor, though it's not essential. (Epazote is available in well-stocked groceries and Mexican markets, and it's very easy to grow in pots or small garden plots.)

Serves: 6 (makes about 3 quarts)

Ingredients: (use organic when possible)
2 tbls. Vegetable or Olive Oil
3 Dried Guajillo Chiles (3/4 oz. total), stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces)
1 lg. White Onion (chopped in 1/4-in. pieces)
2 Garlic Coves (peeled)
115-oz. can Diced Tomatoes (in juice - preferably fire-roasted)
6 cups Chicken or Fish Broth
4 med. Red-skin Potatoes (about 1 lb. total - each cut into 8 pieces)
2 lg. sprigs Epazote (if available)
TT Salt
1 lb. Mussels* or 2 lb. Clams*
1 lb. Fish* (halibut, mahi mahi or catfish - cut into 1-in. cubes)

1/2 cup Cilantro (roughly chopped)
1 Lime (cut in 6 wedges)

1. Heat oil in a medium-large (5- to 6-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add chiles and stir-fry until they have changed color slightly and are very toasty-fragrant, 30
seconds to a minute. Don't over-toast the chiles or the soup will be bitter. Scoop up chile pieces with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to a blender. (A food processor will work, though it won't completely puree the chile.) Pour in tomatoes with their juice.

2. Add two-thirds of the onion and all the garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onion and garlic to blender and process until smooth. Scoop remaining onion into a strainer, rinse under cold water and set aside to use as a garnish.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Set a medium-mesh strainer over pot and work tomato-chile mixture through it. Cook, stirring frequently, until reduced and thick, about 6 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and epazote. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, usually about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1-1/2 teaspoons.

4. Just before serving, raise heat to medium-high and add mussels (or clams) and fish. Boil briskly until the bivalves have opened, usually about 4 minutes. Ladle into large bowls. Sprinkle generously with cilantro and the remaining onion. Serve your steaming bowls of beauty with limes passed separately for each person to squeeze in al gusto.

*Seafood Watch recommends the following sources - mussels: farmed; clams: farmed; Pacific Halibut: U.S. and Canadian wild caught; mahi-mahi: troll/ poll-caught, catfish: U.S. farmed.

Riffs on the Seafood Soup Theme:
1. The fish and shellfish can easily change to include practically any seafood available.

2. Here are my general guidelines. Mussels or clams add complexity to the soup, so I always try to include them. Shrimp and scallops are good for meaty sweetness. Most medium- or large-flake fish can be used in this preparation. (Fish with a fine flake, like sole or small flounder, tend to fall apart in the soup, and strong-flavored fish, like mackerel, bluefish and salmon, can overwhelm the flavors of the broth.) If crab meat is used, add just when soup is served so it doesn't disintegrate.

3. The potatoes can be replaced by cubes of chayote (I don't even peel them), 1-inch lengths of green beans, peas or corn (use the same weight). Or replace them with a drained 28-oz. can of hominy to make a dish similar to the pozole de mariscos that's popular on Mexico's west coast.

Recipes can also be found in Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless


Other Great Related Links:
Cooking for Solutions
Seafood Recipes

Healthy Choices, Healthy Oceans Cooking for Solutions and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Programs are empowering seafood consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans.
To learn more, visit

Events |  Food & Beverage International |  NutraFoodies |  California the Magazine
Home |  Food |  Wine |  Chefs |  Restaurants |  Advertisers |  Recipes
Travel |  Forager |  Who's News |  Directories |  Newsletter |  About Us |  Media Kit

©2007 Food&Beverage International
All rights reserved. | Contact Us |