Sunday, March 8

Soup on Sunday: Saffron Scented Seafood

Saffron is an extraordinary flavor that I simply adore. It’s also one of the most precious spices in the world. When I am at the store, I often wonder just why it’s so expensive. Well, after a little research I now have the answer.

Gathered from crocus flowers, saffron is a difficult spice to obtain. The flowers are picked, by hand, on the day they bloom. The blood-red, thread-like stigmas are plucked immediately for drying. It takes 250,000 crocus blooms to make a single kilo of saffron. I guess it should come as no surprise then that a gram of the spice can cost more than $30. Fortunately, a little goes a long way!

1 fennel bulb
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 pound mussels
1 pound bay scallops
1 pound skinless halibut
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups fish stock (or clam juice)
lemon wedges

Trim fennel stalks flush with bulb, discard stalks, and trim any discolored outer layers. Halve bulb lengthwise and discard core. Finely chop fennel and onion. Mince garlic. Scrub mussels well and remove beards. Cut halibut into 1-inch pieces. Stir saffron into wine.

In a large stockpot cook fennel and onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine mixture and simmer until reduced by half.

Add mussels with 2 cups of stock and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until most mussels are opened, about 4 minutes. Add scallops, halibut and remaining stock and cook at a low simmer until fish is just cooked through. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with warm bread.

serves 4


Debra said...

This looks like the perfect soup for a lazy Sunday at home. And it may be just the thing for jet lag.
I Love Saffron and thought I would use just a little more- the more the better... not so with Saffron!

ALL THE BEST said...

Debra you are right! A little bit of saffron goes a long way. Too much saffron can ruin a dish with an overpowering, medicinal taste.

pve design said...

I always have loved names like "Saffron" and "Clove" and love this post. Love learning about things that add spice to one's life.

Karen said...

This does look perfect for a Sunday afternoon. I just did halibut the other night and it was grand, so once again to the seafood shop. I have been testing for Leite's Culinaria and this will finish off my fennel in the fridge! Thanks Ronda for always giving us something wonderful to celebrate our Sundays.

Maya@Completely-Coastal said...

I just bought some saffron for a Spanish sea food rice dish I want to try, but had no idea where it comes from..., just noticed the high price tag! Thanks!

porter hovey said...

That just looks sooo great. Can't wait to try it!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Oh, seafood perfumed with saffron...almost nothing better! I really adore a little saffron with steamed mussels...this looks phenomenal as a less time consuming bouillabaise!

{this is glamorous} said...

Sounds delicious! It's times like these that I wish I could cook -- would be lovely try out this recipe . . .