Mexican Seven Seas Soup (Caldo de siete mares)

Mexican Seven Seas Soup (Caldo de siete mares)

Guajillo sauce base:

3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

8 medium-large dried guajillo (or New Mexico) chilies, stemmed, seeded

1/2 C. water

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/8 t. freshly ground pepper

Pinch ground cumin

1 T. vegetable oil or olive oil


3 quarts fish broth or chicken broth

2 large sprigs of epazote or cilantro

2 t. salt, about


6 small boiling potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

2 C. diced zucchini or chayote

2 ears corn, shucked, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch rounds, optional

1 lb. tightly closed fresh mussels or clams, scrubbed, beards removed

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless rockfish, bass or cod, cubed

12 medium-large shrimp, peeled, deveined


2/3 C. finely chopped white onion, rinsed under cold water, drained

1/2 C. loosely packed chopped cilantro

1 large lime, cut into wedges

For the sauce, cook garlic in a heavy skillet over medium heat, turning, until soft and slightly blackened, about 4 minutes. Let cool; peel.

Using the same skillet, toast the chilies 1 or 2 at a time, flattening and pressing down on each with a spatula for a few seconds; turn, press again. Cover toasted chilies with hot water; let stand, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain; discard water.

Put chilies, garlic, water, oregano, pepper and cumin in a food processor or blender. Blend to a puree, adding more water if necessary. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. Discard remaining solids. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the puree; cook, stirring, until reduced to a thick paste, about 5 minutes.

For the soup, add the broth and epazote to the guajillo sauce; simmer 45 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Taste; season with salt. Add sugar if necessary.

Add the potatoes to the hot broth. Simmer uncovered until the potatoes are nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini; cook 3 minutes. Add the corn and mussels; simmer until the mussels open, about 2 minutes. Add fish cubes; cook 2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp; remove from heat. Cover; let stand 3-4 minutes. Serve in large bowls. Pass the onion, cilantro and lime wedges.

Yield: 6 servings


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