Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

I owe you a wrap-up post for October Unprocessed, but the cooking bug caught up with me tonight, and I decided to go for it and share this recipe with you instead.

First, let me say this: I’ve always hated seafood. With the occasional exception of tuna in childhood sandwiches or casseroles, even in my meat-eating days I wanted nothing to do with fish or shellfish. Which is why it’s sort of odd that my reaction today, upon reading a reference to Italian-style shellfish soup, was immediately, “I need to veganize that!”

I’ve never had shellfish soup, and other than a mention that the soup in question was made with tomatoes–and clams and mussels–I really had no idea what I was doing. But a few minutes with Google fixed all of that, and a stop at Whole Foods on my way home had me ready to go.


Ready for some fish-o’-the woods soup!

Here’s what I came up with, and I’m pleased to report that I’m quite happy with it. It’s kind of exactly what I wanted. I have no idea whether it resembles any traditional shellfish soup, but it’s really good in any case–warming against the cold front that just showed up, full of vegetables and tangy tomato and lemon, and with just a hint of seafood flavor that could be played up for those who don’t share my aversion. The soup is relatively light, so round it out to make a meal. Some blackened tempeh and avocado would be great with this.


No shells–just tasty soup

Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

6 large cloves garlic, minced and divided
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced, ends and any leaves reserved
1 medium bulb fennel: green tops cut off and set aside; white bulb quartered, cored and thinly sliced.
1 large leek: green tops cut off, washed well and set aside; white part quartered, washed well and thinly sliced.
4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 lb. oyster mushrooms: thick/tough stems trimmed off and set aside; remaining parts chopped in small bites
1/4 lb. lobster mushrooms (more if you like fishier flavor), minced and divided
3 sprigs thyme or 1/4 tsp. whole dried thyme. Lemon thyme would be great if you have it.
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. yellow mustard seed
1/2 tsp. dill seed or 1 tsp. dried dill weed
olive oil
1 tsp. Herbamare (or 3/4 tsp. salt)
1-1/2 tsp. fish seasoning
1/2 tsp. aji amarillo paste (optional–adds a little heat and a nice, fruity flavor. I found mine at Big John’s PFI)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (if the tomatoes are salted, you might want less salt in the recipe)
good handful flat-leaf parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon
black pepper

First, make a “fish” broth based on many of the trimmings from your soup vegetables. If you have a pressure cooker, this won’t slow you down much. If not, you should build in another 30-60 minutes. In a pressure cooker, combine half of the garlic; the ends and leaves trimmed from the celery; half of the tops trimmed from the fennel, coarsely chopped; the leek tops, coarsely chopped; the stems from the oyster mushrooms and about 1/3 of the lobster mushrooms; and 1/4 of the shallots. Add the thyme, whole peppercorns, mustard and dill. Add 1 quart water and seal the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure; lower the heat and keep at pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure release naturally. Strain and set aside. Without a pressure cooker, start with a brief sautéing of the vegetables, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30-60 minutes before straining.


Straining the broth with my handy nut-milk bag

While that’s cooking, chop the rest of your vegetables and start them cooking.


Shallots, leeks and fennel, chopped and ready to go

In a Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the remaining garlic, celery, fennel, leek, and shallots. Saute 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still have some texture.

While those vegetables are cooking, on another burner heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and then the lobster mushrooms, stirring until about half tender. Add the oyster mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and reduced in volume by roughly half–about 4-6 minutes.

When the vegetables in the Dutch oven are ready, add the fish seasoning, the chili paste (if using) and the Herbamare or salt. Cook for one minute more. Add the white wine and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly evaporated. Add the cooked mushrooms, the broth and the tomatoes. Cook another 5 minutes, not allowing the soup to get above a simmer. Add the parsley, the lemon juice and several grinds of black pepper. Check for salt and other seasonings and adjust as needed. If you really want it fishy, you’ll probably want to add some dulse, nori, or kelp to the broth or the finished product. Makes about two quarts, which should serve 4-6.

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This entry was posted in Gluten free, Recipes, Savory stuff, Seasonal recipes--Autumn, Soup, Soy free and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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