Soup of the Seven Seas (Caldo de Siete Mares)

Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking author Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee shares her recipe
In her latest culinary tome, Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking (out this month from Chronicle Books), Angeleno kitchen maven Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee knows to leave well enough alone. Fresh ingredients and a stellar spice rack are all you need for some serious Mexican authenticity with not-so-serious work. In her words, this light seafood soup evokes “the life of sailors and mermaids.” We think it’s a perfect bowl of early summer comfort.

I love the romantic name of this soup and love to eat it as a one-dish meal any time of year. I imagine selling all my worldly possessions, buying a boat, and sailing along the Mexican coastline. But since I get too seasick, I’ll have to settle for an extra helping of seafood soup and leave the life of sailors and mermaids to my imagination.”
-Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
(From Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking: More than 80 Everyday Recipes, Chronicle Books)

Makes 6 to 8 entrée servings

-1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
-2 pounds white fish (catfish, tilapia, etc.), cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
-1/2 white onion, diced
-1/2 bell pepper, diced
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 pound shrimp (shelled or not is up to you)
-8 ounces baby octopus
-4 ounces squid, sliced
-4 ounces shelled mussels
-4 small blue crabs, quartered, including shells
-1 tomato, diced
-1 cup fresh epazote, coarsely chopped
-8 cups fish or chicken broth
-1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
-Hot sauce for serving

1. In large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the white fish, onion, bell pepper, lime juice, and salt and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fish pieces are opaque, about 6 minutes.

2. Add the shrimp, octopus, squid, mussels, crabs, tomato, and epazote and pour in the broth. Cover and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, keep covered, and let the soup simmer until the seafood is cooked, an additional 15 minutes.

3. Ladle the soup into large bowls and serve with the lime wedges and hot sauce.

Note: if you can’t find epazote, feel free to substitute a bunch of cilantro instead. The flavor will be different, but refreshing, nevertheless.