With apologies to Dr. Seuss, my head seems to have appropriated the title of one of his famous books and it’s running like a loop inside me.
I’m pretty sure one of the lines is, If I ran the Zoo, I know just what I’d do…
Anybody with me???
Let’s agree together that it’s not necessary to be experts in anapestic tetrameter, as the good doctor was, to get in the conversation! (Not even The West Wing tried to explain this one, but, if you grew up since the time of the Boomers in the USA, I’ll bet it’s in your head!)
Skipping, for the sake of positive vibes, the first 482 things I’d do, I’ll move along to one I actually have some influence over.
If I ran the zoo, I know just what I’d do. I’d feed those who are ill big bowls of real soup. That’s just what I’d do.
And, since one of those who are ill is one of mine, too, the soup pot is feeling quite special just now!
At this point, I’m going to count on you to keep up the whole metric thing, if you like, so I can share an actual recipe. (I tried to buy fish soup – the patient’s request – and have it delivered but it seems there is none to be had so old-fashioned was the order of the day. And my heart is happy!)
Well, maybe not a recipe, so much, as a process…
- CHECK WITH RECIPIENT FOR ALLERGIES!!!
- Pull out your biggest pot. Figure the dimensions of about 1/3 of the pot’s volume. (Hand gestures are helpful!)
- Procure bony pieces of fish equal to the volume estimated above. Preferably white fleshed fish like grouper, halibut, etc. (Salmon is good but makes a stronger flavored broth which isn’t always optimal for those who are healing.) In my case, 2 big heads and a meaty fish “collar” which is the neck piece. *If you happen to have left-over crab claw or shrimp shells in your freezer, and I did, you’re good. If not, add more fish, or head-on, de-veined wild shrimp, up to about 1/2 the volume of your pot.
- Place raw fish pieces in stock pot. Cover with COLD water, about 2″ deeper than level of fish. Add between 2 Tbsp. and 1/4 c. (depending on size of pot) acidic liquid (white wine, apple cider vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or fresh lemon juice… I used 1/2 white balsamic and 1/2 lemon juice.) Allow to rest, covered, at cool room temp for 45 min. This draws all the healing magic from the bones and cartilage and into your broth!
- Bring to just boiling over med. high heat. Skim, using the closest thing you’ve got to the magic wand in the photo above, removing foam and fuzzy stuff from surface several times until you can tell that you’ve won.
- While magic comes to boil, roast crab/shrimp shells, if using, in 450 F. oven, drizzled with good olive oil for 15 – 20 min. until they smell fabulous. Add to skimmed pot and skim some more.
- Add aromatics and herbs as desired. (Onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, fresh bay leaves, fennel fronds, carrot feathers, parsley stems, celery leaves, proportionately to your pot.) If you need to add additional water, it must be steaming hot!!!
- Reduce heat and simmer, lid off, for at least 2 and up to 4 hours. You want medium sized bubbles breaking the surface gently – not boiling!
- Remove from heat. Drain, strain, scoop carefully as needed to separate broth from all the solids. Discard solids. (Really! All the good stuff is now in the broth.)
- Cool broth on counter until cool enough to add to fridge. I use stainless water bottles, filled about 2/3 full, that have been frozen to speed this along.
- Strain again, if needed.
- Chill overnight in fridge. Package, freeze, and label, leaving about 1″ headspace in containers. (DO NOT put hot broth in glass or plastic containers! I use BPA-free plastic. Glass breaks and ruins everything.)
- While magic broth is freezing, set up an appropriately “distanced” arrangement for delivering. This may well involve text messages and leaving by the door. We’re being adaptable, here!
Broth may be heated gently and sipped from mug or bowl, with or without additions such as chopped veg, cooked rice, additional fish, etc. (Given current circumstances, I’d suggest heating broth/soup briefly all the way to a boil before serving.)
Take a bow!
If you’re like me, there are still things you would do if you ran the zoo. I’m with you. This is one that we can manage, which makes it – or your version of it – a great place to start. And if, like me, you have a really big pot, you’ll have some magic for you and even more to share.
We’ve got this! (With much appreciated help from the Legendary Husband!)