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Winter’s Coming … to Southwest Florida!

Weather forecasts indicate our low temperature will be 30 degrees this weekend in Southwest Florida!

We know our northern friends – even those in north Florida – are used to the cold because, well, it is January. But we about-as-far-south-as-you-can-get-Floridians don’t know how to deal with it! Call us wimps. We are.

Running around bare-legged in shorts and sneakers is what we do here. All year long. Except not this coming weekend…

In preparation, I made a big pot of spicy catfish and shrimp soup today, and it’s so tasty I may not even notice the cold weather (from inside my warm house)!

For other locals reading this blog post, as you get ready for the upcoming doesn’t-sound-like-Florida-weekend, you may enjoy cooking this delicious dish, which I’ve detailed in photographs and text below – along with a cute, fish-shaped soup bowl topper.

Enjoy the show (not snow), and stay warm out there, Floridians and everyone else!

The Ingredients

Making a big pot of spicy catfish and shrimp soup is a simple yet delicious dish! The ingredients are catfish, shrimp, chili powder, cumin, seafood seasoning, minced garlic, chopped onion, diced jalapeño pepper, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and sour cream.

I didn’t have any jalapeño peppers at home so I used diced ones from a jar, which worked out fine. I chopped the onion in large pieces as I like a stew-like soup, but the garlic was finely minced.

Be sure to cut your catfish fillets much larger than bite-sized so your fish doesn’t break down while cooking. It will taste good regardless if that were to happen, but again, I like big chunks of food in my soups and stews. Peel the shrimp, and remove the tails before cooking.

It’s not a lot of ingredients for such a large pot of soup!

The Steps

There are four steps to making this tasty soup:

1 – Onion, Chili Powder and Garlic: Saute the chopped onions in butter until they’re translucent; add the chili powder and minced garlic; and cook for around 5 minutes while stirring regularly.

2 – Chicken Stock, Cumin, Seafood Seasoning, and Jalapeño: Add the chicken stock, cumin, seafood seasoning, and diced jalapeño pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3 – Tomatoes, Catfish, and Shrimp: Add the tomatoes, catfish, and shrimp. Bring back to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

It’s important to note again that fish, no matter what size the pieces, can easily break apart in a soup or stew. As soon as my fish goes into the pot, I stop using a stirring spoon and start using tongs. You want to move the large pieces as needed, but not put undue pressure on them with stirring.

4 – Sour Cream: The sour cream is to give the soup a creamy consistency, as well as to enhance the flavors. But I recommend against dumping the sour cream directly into the soup pot – where again, it likely would break up the fish pieces when you stirred in the sour cream.

Instead, I ladle some of the soup liquid (only liquid) into a bowl, and add the sour cream slowly while continuously whisking. This is similar to how you temper an egg by removing some hot liquid, and dissolving the egg into that mixture before adding it all to the main pan.

When your sour cream and soup liquid are nicely mixed, add it slowly back to the big soup pot – and avoid the urge to use a spoon to stir it. Your tongs will get the job done, and preserve your fish pieces.

Re-cover the soup and let it simmer for another five minutes. Your house will smell amazing!

The Fish Garnish

This is a fun and creative way to garnish your spicy catfish and shrimp soup when it’s served. Typically I use pastry and bake little fish-shaped biscuits to place on top of the filled bowls, but if you’re pressed for time like I was today, you can toast bread and cut your fish from there.

I have two sizes of fish cookie cutters, and used both of them today. Make sure the toast is very crisp so it will hold up to the cookie cutter.

The fish garnishes can be laid flat on top of the soup, or can be made to stand (wedged in between a shrimp or two). Just don’t add them to the soup bowls until you’re ready to serve, or the liquid could make your fish look a little less like a fish if it were to go swimming in the soup!

This is a fun thing to make for children and adults alike, and adds a whimsical touch to your served soup bowls – an amusing take on traditional toast points!

The Finish

Since the soup was made for the upcoming COLD weekend, almost all of it was placed in the refrigerator for reheating later. I did have a small bowl of it – somebody’s got to test it first, right – and it’s delicious with just the right amount of heat softened by the sour cream’s creaminess!

You can make it as spicy or as less spicy as you’d like – another reason why it’s so good to make your own soups and stews instead of buying somebody else’s idea of what it should be and what should go into it.

Here are a few photographs of the finished product first without and then with the fish garnishes, styled for the pictures before being placed into the refrigerator.

So, for those who live in winter states, what foods do you like when hunkered down inside your home? Help us Floridians out as we prepare for a cold weekend! Please comment below!



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