Andrea Maunder, locovore, wine expert and pastry chef, is the owner and creative force behind Bacalao, a St. John's restaurant specializing in "nouvelle Newfoundland" cuisine.

Freestyling in the Kitchen

Have you ever noticed that chefs like to include chorizo sausage in seafood dishes? Chorizo is a Spanish traditional cured pork sausage flavoured with mild or hot smoked paprika. Chorizo and seafood is truly a harmonious pairing. The pork adds a little succulence to lean seafood, and the smoky sweetness from the paprika adds a lovely complexity to the dish. Using hot chorizo adds a spicy tingle I just love. 

The fish soup recipe I have for you this month comes from a need to use up ingredients in the fridge at home after a dinner party. I had bits and pieces of peppers and other vegetables, along with haddock I had thawed too much of, half a link of chorizo, an opened bottle of white wine and a few ounces of whipping cream. We always have canned tomatoes on hand, and the pantry is generally well stocked with herbs and spices. It turned out so deliciously that I immediately noted the recipe in the little Notes app on my phone, thinking it would be great to share with you. For sure, I will be making it again!

Naturally, yours will probably turn out slightly different, depending on what’s in your fridge – but that’s the beauty of soups and stews, isn’t it? You can follow my lead directly or do a little freestyling of your own! If you have shrimp or mussels to use up, they would be a great addition/substitution.

Fish and Chorizo Soup
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 bulb fennel (or celery), diced
3 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tsp fennel seed, ground
1/2 tsp chipotle flakes
1 cup diced chorizo (I used spicy)
1 cup bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 cups water (or leftover stock you want to use up)
2-3 tbsp cream
1 lb white fish, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (opt)

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and fennel, along with the herbs and spices, and stir a few minutes, allowing the vegetables to begin to soften and the spices to infuse the oil. Add chorizo and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Add bell peppers and garlic; fry a couple of minutes. Add flour and stir a couple more minutes (important to cook the flour to avoid a raw flour taste). Season with salt and pepper and add the wine, stirring a moment or two to let the alcohol evaporate. The flour will thicken the liquid. Add tomatoes and water (or stock) and continue to stir occasionally while the liquid comes to a simmer. Add cream, taste and re-season. Reduce heat to medium-low and slide in the fish. Cover the pot and give it a few minutes to cook the fish. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with a little fresh parsley, if you like, and serve with crusty bread.

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