Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chef Boyd's Mediterranean Fish Soup from Topped Chef

Table set with Cod Soup
LUCY BURDETTE: I have a confession on today's post--although I put this recipe in TOPPED CHEF, I had never made it myself. I had certainly eaten it--my friend and excellent cook Tim Boyd served it and I was wowed. So I asked if I might include it in the third Key West mystery.

 A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing getting together with some good friends, the Charkows, and as usual, we argued over who had hosted whom last. 

"I need you to come here," I said after a few times back and forth, "because I have to make this recipe for the blog." 

"What exactly is a blog?" Carol asked. 

Lucy with friends Carol and Jay, plus Tonka
But in the end, they came and I made Tim's codfish soup. Everyone declared it delicious! You'll see below that there are two steps--first the chunky basil sauce, then the soup. I made it the day before and added the fish at the last minute. We served it with toasted baguette slices that had been brushed with olive oil. 

Mediterranean Cod Soup

Chunky Basil Sauce
Plus one additional can (35 oz) of crushed or diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions
1 ½ lb fresh cod cut into two inch chunks
2 green zucchini cut into 1/2” dice
¼ cup sliced black olives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (I omitted this)
2/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
1 cup water (optional) (or a little more broth to thin)

Add the crushed tomatoes to the chunky basil sauce along with the onions, zucchini, olives, wine and stock. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer until zucchini is soft. Add water or stock to the desired thickness. At this point the soup can sit overnight (and the flavors usually improve) or longer if chilled.

Recipe for Chunky Basil Sauce:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspooon each: dried oregano, dried basil, garlic and salt
1 (35 oz) can Italian whole tomatoes

Heat oil and sauté shallots, onions and spices. Pour off about 1 cup of the liquid from the tomatoes and set aside. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and add to the oil/spice mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes or so. If sauce gets too thick, add a little of the reserved tomato liquid.

To serve:

Heat the soup to serving temperature and add the cod chunks. The cod will cook quickly so test every few minutes. When the cod is done, remove the chunks with a slotted spoon and place in the serving bowls. Ladle soup over the top. 

Hayley Snow invites Lorenzo the tarot card reader to lunch in Topped Chef. She decides she’ll serve him Mediterranean fish soup. Here’s how it goes:

Once the half-frozen tomato sauce was warming in a pan, I began to dice zucchini, black olives, and onions while Miss Gloria cut the ciabatta into thick slices and brushed them with olive oil. Adding the vegetables to the pan with two-thirds cup of white wine and chicken broth, I brought the sauce to a simmer and cut the grouper into chunks. While the bread toasted, Miss Gloria finished setting the table.

“Do you think he’ll read our cards?” she asked. “I’ve never had it done. I’m a little nervous.”

I didn’t tell her I was nervous, too. I’d never seen Lorenzo as a civilian. Or cooked for him. But more than that, the last time he’d read my cards, I’d almost lost my mother. I realized that somehow the two things had started to get twined up in my brain: tarot and danger.

It's me Lucy again. I had planned to make a lime sponge cake for dessert, but my favorite bakery 4 and Twenty Blackbirds is next door to the fish shop. I couldn't resist their lovely orange sponge cake with lemon glaze--I served with a fruit salad. Yummy!

Please follow Lucy on Facebook and Twitter And order the Key West mysteries right here!


  1. Fish soup gets full marks in our household and we are always looking for different ways to make it. My hubby and I will cook and eat this together. I love the addition of the zucchini. It sounds fabulous. Also, big congrats on the release of Topped Chef, Lucy/Roberta. Very exciting!

  2. thanks MJ--it's been an exciting week! Now have to get back to writing the next one:). I was thinking about this soup as "fish soup for people who don't like fish soup":).

  3. Yummy! Have to look for some nice cod and make this. It's a welcome variation on fish soup/stews.

    1. Made it yesterday for dinner.
      A winner! Really tasty.
      I added a bit of herbs de provence
      We'll be having it again tonight and I expect it will be even better after sitting over night.

  4. Great recipe, Lucy/Roberta, and with some of my favorite ingredients (love the chunky basil sauce step)--and continued congrats on the success of TOPPED CHEF!

  5. Love the story and the recipe looks delicious. What a perfect soup for spring. I adore basil. And I want that cake, too!

    Daryl / Avery

  6. What a beautiful table setting! Gorgeous, Lucy! You realize that you're in trouble now? If Carol and Jay are anything like my friends, they'll be asking, "don't you have to cook something for the blog?" LOL! The trick is training them to be honest about the food they're sampling. I think I might have gone overboard in that direction -- my friends are getting too honest!

    I'm making this next week. Sounds wonderful.


  7. I lived in Key West and worked at the Key West Citizen for years. In the 70's (and long before that), Dorothy Raymer was the food critic and music critic for the paper. She also wrote a column called "Only in Key West." The interesting thing is she was a diabetic and her diet was quite restricted; and she was also deaf--so she couldn't hear most of the music she was supposed to be critiquing!! She would take a couple or two with her on to the restaurants and music venues so they could tell her about the food and the music. Of course, everyone in town knew her, so when she showed up at a restaurant, she always got first class service!!

    1. Oh Sheila, what a great story--thanks for sharing! If you would, email me so I can chat with you about early days in Key West? lucyburdette at gmail dot com