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Brazilian Shellfish Soup

Brazilian Shellfish Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
This soup combines some of the most vibrant flavors of the Brazilian pantry: coconut, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, peanuts and saffron. If you like, add chunks of meat from 2 small lobsters or 1 Dungeness crab, cooked and cracked, after adding the salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through, then continue as directed.


  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chilies, minced
  • 1/4 cup ground dry-roasted peanuts or cashews
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 4 to 5 cups fish broth
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped plum
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads, steeped in 1/4 cup
      white wine
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. firm white fish fillets, cut into
      1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 18 mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
  • 18 shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails intact
  • 18 sea scallops
  • About 6 cups hot, cooked white rice
  • 3 Tbs. shredded dried coconut, toasted


In a wide, deep saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the jalapeños, nuts, garlic, ginger and coriander, and sauté until heated through and the flavors are blended, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, coconut milk, saffron and wine, and the 1/4 cup cilantro and simmer for about 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the lemon juice, to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the balance of sweet and sour flavors.

Add the white fish, mussels (discard any that do not close to the touch) and shrimp and simmer until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes. Add the scallops during the last 2 minutes and simmer just until the mussels open and the scallops are opaque throughout.

To serve, place 1 cup rice in each large warmed soup bowl. Ladle the soup into the bowls, dividing the shellfish as evenly as possible and discarding any mussels that did not open. Garnish with the 3 Tbs. cilantro and the coconut. Serve hot.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).