If you only make one recipe from my entire blog, I hope it is Chipotle Caldo Pescado — Chipotle Fish Soup. This is my favorite way to prepare fish and my favorite soup, despite its unpretentious name. We enjoy this so much, that even in the midst of summer when the temperature could not get any hotter we eat this. That’s how good it is. Serve it with a green salad and a loaf of French bread, and you can impress your guests with a minimum of effort. Or just impress yourself with this easy, colorful, tasty soup.
Chipotle chiles are dry, smoked jalapeños. Canned, they come in a spicy adobo sauce. Mark Miller, in The Great Chile Book, claims that the flavor has hints of chocolate, tobacco and Brazil nuts. Hmmm … if you can taste this, let me know. But whatever the flavors, they are complex and addictive. And very hot. Use sparingly, but please don’t omit the chipotle. It is what gives Caldo Pescado its zip.
This is one recipe where it is important to follow the practice of mise en place — the French culinary term for having all of the ingredients measured and cut before you start cooking. This recipe comes together so quickly that you won’t have time to prepare ingredients once you heat your pan. Mise en place. Mise en place. My kitchen mantra.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup poblano pepper, roughly chopped
- 3 small zucchini or Mexican green squash
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup (240 ml.) chopped fresh tomato (about 3 med.) or canned tomato
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons canned chipotle chile with sauce (finely mince chile)
- 2 cups (1/2 l.) fish stock or bottled clam juice
- 1/2 cup (118 ml.) dry white wine
- 1 1/2 lbs. (680 grams) of boneless fish, 1″ (2.5 cm.) dice
- generous pinch of dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano
- salt to taste
- minced cilantro for garnish
- olive oil to finish
- Heat pan; sauté onion, bell pepper, poblano chile and squash in olive oil for 4 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer, stirring.
- Add tomato, tomato paste and chipotle chile and cook two minutes more.
- Add fish stock, white wine, fish, thyme and oregano. Stir gently and simmer on a low heat for 2 minutes.
- Turn off burner, cover pot with lid, and let rest to finish cooking for 3 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.
- Ladle into bowls and top each bowl with a splash of flavorful olive oil and a generous amount of chopped cilantro. Serve with thick, toasted slices of Mexican bolillos or French bread.
Today’s Free Tip: So often I needed a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, put the remainder in the fridge, and forgot about it until it had spoiled. Cook’s Illustrated suggests freezing a small can of tomato paste, removing the ends, and pushing out the frozen cylinder of paste. Keep it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer and slice off just the amount you need. This works great for cans of chipotle chile, also. Finally, no more wasted tomato paste in my kitchen.
More ways to enjoy canned chipotle chile: blend into mayonnaise for a zippy sandwich spread; make compound butter with chipotle and adobo sauce, and use to top grilled steaks, chicken or fish: for a “picante” kick in any savory dish, reach for chipotle in adobo sauce, instead of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce
Homemade fish stock makes this soup special. You can use bottled clam juice, and it will be very good, but not the same.
- Black bean soup with chipotle chile (cookinginmexico.com)
- Oxtail Soup from “Like Water for Chocolate” (cookinginmexico.com)