1 large starchy potato, such as Idaho, peeled and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 celery ribs and the leafy greens, chopped
2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch slices, then separated and washed to release dirt, and drained
Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/3 cup white vermouth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups seafood stock, or 1 cup each chicken stock and clam juice
1 envelope saffron powder, about 1 1/2 grams, or a pinch of saffron threads (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cod or scrod, cut into large bite-size chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
1 to 1 1/4 pounds small Manila clams (optional)
Crusty bread, for dipping
Heat a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo, cook for a minute or two to darken and render the sausage a bit, then add the potatoes and garlic and coat in fat.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and leeks and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Cook for 5 minutes, then add the wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stock, saffron, thyme, and half of the parsley.
Put the lid on the pan and bring the stoup to a boil. Season the fish chunks with lemon juice and salt. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the stoup and replace the lid.
Cook for 3 minutes, or until the fish is opaque at all edges but still a bit undercooked in the middle and not yet firm. Add the clams in a single layer, replace the lid, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the clams all open. Discard any clams that refuse to open. Uncover the pan, dip into the stoup, and carefully spoon the sauce over the cooked seafood.
Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Ladle stoup into shallow bowls, garnish with the remaining parsley, and serve with lots of crusty bread.
4 VERY GENEROUS SERVINGS, OR UP TO 6 SINGLE-BOWL SERVINGS
I had to change some things about this soup, not by choice, mostly, but by necessity. I think I only used 1 pound of fish, which was plenty for us. I omitted the Olive oil that you cook the chorizo in. I don't understand why you need fat to cook fat in. I also made the saffron and the clams optional. It is very hard to find real live clams in any market around here, or in Mobile where we used to live. And I couldn't bring myself to pay over $16 for saffron threads. I made this soup with saffron before, and honestly, I couldn't tell the difference. Perhaps my tastebuds aren't as refined as they should be.
The soup was still pretty good. My husband seemed to like it. The flavor was good, but I didn't care for the soggy texture of the leeks or the blandness of the fish... maybe the chunks were too big for me. I think if my ingredients were as fresh and high quality as RR's, I would have had a pretty darn good soup.
Rachael Ray says: "Food Network is located at Chelsea Market, in Manhattan. The Lobster Place is a great seafood shop within this huge market. I made up this meal one night during a run of taping for 30-Minute Meals. I stopped into the market and took home pure white scrod, some tiny Manila clams, and a little pack of saffron powder as my inspiration. It was so delish that John and I ate it three nights in ten, sharing it with family and friends two of those evening as the simplest, tastiest way we could think to entertain a crowd. Whether you're feeding one or some, make a whole pot of this stoup (thicker than soup, thinner than stew), as the leftovers get even better!"