Before we toss our boat shoes and flip flops in a box marked summer we want to experience the last warm days and slurp summer soup with cooler September nights. When I lived in DC my favorite trips to the beach were when I would play hookie with the girls for one final trip to Rehoboth. The road trips resulted in 1 speeding ticket, a cloudy-call-me-out sunburn, smuggled homemade raspberry jam from The Back Porch Café and randomly the best winter coat I’ve ever-owned. The joy we had made me contemplate many times auditioning for a summer Delaware acting company to perform children’s shows on the beach and running away from the politics of the District.
I’d like to say this recipe was smuggled from one of those trips, but it is a homemade recipe. It is however inspired by the beach and by the culinary prowess of my travel partners – the only time I’ve ever raced a lobster was with them. So bon appétit to Maren, Mauricia and all of this year’s September memories to come – enjoy the magic this magic stone soup brings as you slurp as much summer out of September as you can.
In a 6 quart saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the white wine, tomato paste, saffron, stock, crushed red pepper, orange juice, and orange zest and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about one-third.
Add the fennel and tomatoes and cook until the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Season the fish fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut the fillets into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Add the fish, shrimp, and parsley to the broth and allow to cook, gently stirring only once or twice, until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with garlic-rubbed croutons.
*Garlic Croutons can easy be homemade - just slice French bread, sprinkle with olive oil and toast. The second the bread begins to change color remove and rub each slice with the cut side of a piece of garlic.