Brodetto alla Vastese is a traditional seafood soup originating from the small city by the sea of Vasto, Abruzzo. This fish soup is made with a combination of onions, olive oil, green bell peppers, parsley, garlic, tomatoes, and water. The sauce should have a brothy consistency. It’s combined with fresh mixed seafood such as cod, shrimp, sole, calamari, mussels, and/or different types of white fish. The legend of this dish has fisherman coming back to the coast with their fresh catch and bartering with the owners of the vegetable gardens in town– this cooperation meant that both wound up with all the key ingredients needed for this dish. A truly authentic preparation would use a “tijelle,” the flat terracotta dish prized by families for use again and again, being handed down from generation to generation.
Soak the mussels and clams in salty water to help release the sand they may be holding. Devein the shrimp (or simply use already prepared shrimp) and clean along with calamari and fish filets (mahi, grouper, cod or other white fish may be used). Leave shrimp intact but chop calamari and fish into bite-sized pieces.
Add olive oil to pan, and gently sauté the chopped bell pepper and onion just until onion becomes translucent.
Add and gently sauté the garlic (finely chopped, and not too much!) and chopped parsley. Cook just until the garlic releases its bouquet.
Transfer cooked ingredients into a soup pot or, for tradition’s sake, a wide terracotta bowl. Add more oil if needed, then layer the calamari and white fish, cooking on low heat until just past translucent. Add shrimp, mussels, clams, tomatoes and two quarts of already boiling water (important!). For an added flavor kick, substitute 1 15 oz can of Flora Imported White Clam Sauce for 1 pint of the water.
Simmer on low heat for 45-60 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve hot with slices of Flora Italian Hard Toast Classic. Remember: Italians never pair cheese with fish, but if you want to add some Flora Grated Parmesan– we won’t tell!