Cazuela : seafood-pasta-fish soup from Andalucía

I´ve often heard people complain about Spanish food, particulary the food in the south. My knee jerk reaction to this is "bollocks/idiot tourists/you don´t like food anyway". But on cool reflection, I can see their point. If you´re a tourist in Spain, you´re often at the mercy of the sort of people who serve every single thing floating in a pool of orangey oil. You might not see a vegetable for days on end, or else you´ll be subjected to the "ensalada mixta" world of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot from a jar. I know. I´ve had that, and it sucks. 
But of course that´s not real food, right?
There are a lot of simple  homely dishes, full of vegetables even, that never make it to restaurant tables, and so tourists go away with a lot of bad ideas in their heads and some inferior jamón from the duty free shop in their bags. No wonder they badmouth us.
Here´s one of these,  a warming, beautiful chunky soup of fish, vegetables and pasta, deep yellow from the saffron. 
Cecilia gave me this recipe, but I´ve adapted it. She is a wonderful cook, and I could never hope to rival the real thing, so I might as well take a few shortcuts. The beauty of it is that it´s a blueprint, so you can change any of the main ingredients to suit what you have to hand, and tailor it to the season or your stores.

For four (more or less) you´ll need 2 litres of light fish stock. I make this by buying a block of la Sirena frozen fish fumet and dissolving it in two litres of water instead of the recommended one.

250 gr. of pasta, some short thick noodles, or the ones shaped like rice
or rice, about a cup, or 500 gr. of potatoes cut in chunks. Whatever you have, but remember that the cooking time will be different, so adapt accordingly.

Likewise, the fish is your choice, but I normally go with frozen prawns (250 gr) and a piece of desalted cod, or maybe some frozen hake. But mussels, clams, and any other white fish are more than fine.

The veg is again a matter of taste, but keep it in the range of asparagus, artichokes, spinach, that sort of thing. Not too many, this is a Spanish dish after all, it won´t do to make it all green.

For the sofrito, a small tin of plum tomatoes, an onion, a clove of garlic and a green pepper.
Start with this first, sauteeing the onion, then adding the pepper, then the tomato and garlic, and letting it go sweet and soft ( a spoonful of sugar is always a good idea).
Add the stock and a pinch of saffron threads, or a teaspoonful of paprika, or both.
Let this simmer for a few minutes, then liquidize it if you like ( I don´t often bother).
Add the pasta and vegetables. The fish should go in when the pasta is about five minutes away from being ready.
This is not a dish that needs to be exactly al dente, in fact the tradition here is to serve it pretty soggy, and the fish won´t be mortally dry with all that liquid around. But still, watch it carefully, taste for salt and pepper, and serve with lots of nice doughy bread and a big green salad.
See, that wasn´t so bad, surely?

10 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

I found your blog rather reecently and I have just loved rummaging around. Adore your drAwings/paintings and writing!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) dijo...

The soup sounds wonderful. I've always thought of the word "cazuela" as describing the cooking vessel, but I think it like tagine, both the pot and what's cooked in it?

xps dijo...

Que pena que el abuelo n tenga wifi, veo a cecilia en un cibercafé.

Anónimo dijo...


m'encanta el teu bloc, l'acabo de descobrir! visc a oxford (uk) i estaba xafardejant buscant il.lustracions de receptes, i he trobat el teu bloc en anglès, i he pensat, mira tu, aquesta anglesa si q sap de què parla, sembla mentida... i quina sorpresa veure q ets una catalana com jo!!

jeje bueno a reveure, i gràcies pels dibuixets, són genials!

lobstersquad dijo...

Ann: great, cool, welcome, thanks!
Lydia: sorry, forgot to say, yes, it´s both the pot and the dish, like tagine, as you say
XZps: pues sí, qué visión
Diminuta: encantada y bienvenida, y muchas gracias, me alegro de que te guste. pero te diré que soy de Madrid, la X se pronuncia "j" a la manera castellana antigua, como México.

Anónimo dijo...

funny... I was laying on the couch last night thumbing through cookbooks wondering what to cook over the weekend and a saffron-scented fish soup was one of the ideas that was percolating around in my brain. I'm not 100% positive it's what I'll make... eh, who knows! thanks for the idea ximena!

Anónimo dijo...

oops, that's me up there, stupid blogger's doing weird things today...

LE BLOG dijo...

Me encanta la acuarela. El cielo. Y me encanta que seas de Madrid, ¡como yo!

Marce dijo...

Hablando de Andalucía, Ximena... tengo a mi hermano en Sevilla y se viene de vacaciones para Buenos Aires en una semanita. Se me ocurrió a último momento pedirle un par de ingredientes españoles que acá no se puedan conseguir, pero por ahora solo se me ocurrió harina de espelta, tomate frito quizas (aunque la otra vez se le rompieron las cajas en la valija y fue un caos) y aceite de argan, que habrá que ver si encuentra algún puestillo árabe o marroquí y me lo consigue.
Como me imagino que no sabrás muy bien que se consigue en Argentina o no, contame tus ingredientes favoritos no-universales por acá o escribiéndome al mail. Quise encontrar tu dirección así te escribía directamente ahí, pero no hubo caso.

lobstersquad dijo...

alo Marcela: lo del tomate frito se me hace un pelín arriesgado, y pesa mucho. No sé si de todo eso hay en Argentina, pero te digo: azafrán, que aquí es barato. Ñoras, los pimientos secos esos que se usan en la paella y mil cosas más. Pimentón. Vinagre de Pedro Ximénez. Jamón, claro, y mojama o huevas de atún secas. Quizá harina de almortas, para gachas? No se me ocurre mucho más, pero si tienes alguna duda, me puedes escribir a
ximena arroba ximenamaier punto com