Shellfish Soup with Leeks and Turmeric

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS For a succulent shellfish soup bursting with flavor and chock-full of seafood, we decided to use shrimp, scallops, and squid since these made for an easier-to-eat soup. Since all of the seafood would need to be cooked at the end, we set out to build a flavorful soup base. Initial tests with pancetta and fish stock produced soups that were savory and tasty, but too muddy and rich. We turned to the seafood itself: The shrimp shells were a valuable source of flavor, from which we could extract a potent and aromatic broth. We sautéed the shells and simmered them in white wine and water for a few minutes. After straining out the shells, we used the broth to deglaze the cooked vegetables and to build the soup base. This soup was intensely shrimp-flavored and fragrant. After testing, we found that the broth needed no longer than 10 minutes to simmer with the shells. Building around this concentrated shrimp broth, we chose leeks and spices reminiscent of North Africa—namely, ginger, coriander, and turmeric. A small bit of tomato paste reinforced the more savory aspects of the soup without being distracting, and bottled clam juice added dimension and natural sweetness. Finally we had a potent, shrimp-forward broth that would be the perfect medium for cooking the seafood. To avoid overcooking anything, we added the seafood in stages: Scallops got a 2-minute head start on the shrimp, which cooked in mere minutes. Adding the squid last off heat gently poached it and delivered a perfectly cooked, meaty shellfish soup. If desired, you can omit the squid in this recipe and increase the amount of shrimp to 1½ pounds.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

12 ounces large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled and deveined, shells reserved

1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

4 cups water

1½ pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly

4 ounces pancetta, chopped fine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

⅛  teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice

12 ounces large sea scallops, tendons removed

12 ounces squid, bodies sliced crosswise into ½-inch-thick rings, tentacles halved

⅓  cup minced fresh parsley

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to turn spotty brown and pot starts to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in water, bring to simmer, and cook for 4 minutes. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add leeks and pancetta and cook until leeks are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in wine mixture and clam juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook until flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, add sea scallops, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in squid, cover, and let sit until just opaque and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with extra oil.


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