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3 Seafood Soup Recipes That Go Beyond Clam Chowder

Kathy's Southeast Asian-style fish soup. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Kathy's Southeast Asian-style fish soup. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
This article is more than 5 years old.

When you hear "fish soup," do you think "chowder?" Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst says there are other options that make delicious summer-meal centerpieces. Kathy brings Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young recipes and samples of a Southeast Asian-style fish soup, a French-style summer fish stew and a clam and chorizo soup.

Southeast Asian-Style Fish Soup With Coconut, Lime, Basil And Cilantro

This soup takes less than an hour to put together, and is somehow both light and rich at the same time. It can be made a day ahead of time and simply reheated over a low heat until simmering. Serves 4 to 6.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
  • Two 1-inch pieces lemongrass, with outer leaves removed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh jalapeño, with or without seeds (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest*
  • One 13 1/2-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 pound flounder, snapper or firm whitefish, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound scallops, sliced in half, or swordfish or firm fish steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, deveined with shell still on
  • About 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes*)

*Zest the first lime, and then use that lime and a second lime for the fresh lime juice


  1. In a large soup pot heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the ginger, shallots, lemongrass, jalapeño, curry paste, salt and pepper and saute, stirring, for five minutes. Add the chicken stock, lime zest, coconut milk, vinegar and fish sauce, and stir to create a smooth soup. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and half the cilantro and basil and simmer for five minutes.
  2. Add the flounder (or whitefish) and scallops (or swordfish) and cook for five minutes. Add the shrimp and lime juice and cook another five minutes, or until the shrimp are firm and the flounder and scallops are tender. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, curry paste or lime juice as needed. Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining cilantro and basil.
Kathy's French-Style summer fish stew. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Kathy's French-Style summer fish stew. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

French-Style Summer Fish Stew With Parsley-Lemon-Garlic Topping And Croutes

This French-style fish soup looks elegant and complex, but our little secret is that there's nothing difficult about preparing it. Best of all? Much of the soup can be made a day ahead of time, and can be finished up just before serving.

Serve hot with the parsley-lemon topping, crusty croutes (which can both be prepared a day ahead of time) and a summer salad. Serves 4.

Fish Stew Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 cup fresh fennel, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon harissa or tomato paste (harissa is a hot chile paste that comes in a tube or can)
  • 3/4 cup white wine, preferably dry
  • 1 cup chopped or crushed tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (go light on the salt)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound whitefish, like cod or haddock, cut into chunks
  • 1 pound swordfish or tuna, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon saffron (optional)
  • 12 to 16 littleneck or cherrystone clams*

*Clams must be scrubbed under cold, running water or soaked in a bowl of cold water, to remove grit and sand

Parsley-Lemon-Garlic Topping And Croutes Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron, optional
  • 1 small clove garlic finely chopped
  • 8 slices baguette or crusty bread
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Make the fish soup base: In a large pot heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over low heat. Add the garlic, shallot and half the thyme and stir for one minute. Add the fennel and cook four minutes. Add half each of the parsley and basil, and all of the harissa or tomato paste and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
  2. Raise the heat to high and add the wine; let boil for two minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomatoes, fish stock, salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. The soup base can be made a day ahead of time up to this point; cover and refrigerate.
  3. To make the parsley-lemon-garlic topping: In a small bowl mix the parsley, lemon zest, salt, pepper, saffron (if using) and garlic. Can be made several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. For the toasts: Preheat the broiler. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and brush with half the oil. Broil for one to two minutes, or until golden brown. Flip over and brush with the remaining oil and broil another one to two minutes, or until toasted. The toast can made up to two hours ahead of time; cover and leave at room temperature.
  5. About 20 minutes before serving, bring the soup base to a gentle simmer. Add the whitefish and let cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile place the swordfish (or tuna) and shrimp on a plate or in a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil, salt, pepper and saffron (if using) and coat the fish with the seasonings.
  7. Add the fish and the seasonings from the plate into the stew, along with the remaining thyme, basil and parsley. Stir well and simmer over moderately low heat for 10 minutes. Just before serving, add the clams, cover the pot and simmer until the clams just open. Taste for seasoning.
  8. To serve: Bring the soup to a simmer and spoon out a bowlful. Top with a piece of the toast and a generous sprinkling of the parsley-lemon topping.
Kathy's clam and chorizo soup with tomatoes and arugula. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Kathy's clam and chorizo soup with tomatoes and arugula. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Clam And Chorizo Soup With Tomatoes And Arugula

This simple soup — from my new book, "Soup Swap" (Chronicle Books, 2016) — takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and makes a thoroughly satisfying meal. It's served with toasted crusty bread (sourdough or olive bread would be appropriate for sopping up the juices) and a summer salad and chilled rosé.

You simply saute chorizo sausage with onions and shallots, add basil, parsley, fish stock and white wine, and then throw in the clams. About 5 minutes later, once the clams have opened, you're ready to feast. Serves 6 to 8.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces fresh chorizo, casing removed, or dried chorizo, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed, finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup packed, thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (red, yellow, or heirloom variety)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • Dash of hot-pepper sauce
  • 3 pounds littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed
  • 4 cups packed, coarsely chopped baby arugula or arugula


  1. In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and shallots, just a pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for eight minutes. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage, for five minutes. Add the parsley, basil and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for another three minutes.
  2. Turn the heat to high, add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish stock and hot-pepper sauce. Then turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for about five minutes. Add the clams and cook for five to seven minutes, until they just begin to open. Discard any clams that don't open.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, divide the clams equally among mugs or bowls. Ladle the soup over the clams, top with equal portions of arugula and serve. The heat of the soup will just wilt the arugula.

If you're still hankering for chowder, you can check out Kathy's recipe here.

This article was originally published on June 07, 2017.

This segment aired on June 7, 2017.

More From Our Resident Chef:

Kathy Gunst Resident Chef, Here & Now
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.



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