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Caldo de Siete Mares - Seven Seas Soup
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Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, Scribner 1996


  • Guajillo Sauce Base:
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 8 medium-large (about 2 oz (56 grm). total) dried gualillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/8 tsp (1 ml) black pepper, preferably fresh ground
  • a pinch cumin, preferably freshly ground
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable or olive oil
  • Soup:
  • 3 quarts (2850 ml) fish or chicken stock
  • 2 large sprigs epazote (or use a handful of cilantro if no epazote is available
  • salt, about 2-1/4 tsp (10 ml) depending on the saltiness of the broth
  • a little sugar, if necessary
  • 12 medium-large (about 8 oz (224 grm).) shrimp
  • 6 small boiling potatoes (like the red-skin ones), cut into 3/4 inch dice
  • 2 cups (475 ml) diced (3/4 inch) vegetables, such as zucchini and peeled and pitted chayote
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked, silk removed and cut crosswise 3/4 inch thick (optional)
  • 1 lb (.5 kg). (about 2 dozen) tightly closed fresh mussels or clams, well scrubbed(and for mussels, any stringy "beards" trailing from between the shells removed)
  • 12 oz (336 grm). boneless skinless fish fillets (such as snapper, cod, halibut, mahimahi and the like--in Mexico, robalo [snook] is popular), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) finely chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) loosely packed, chopped cilantro
  • 1 large lime, cut into wedges
  • Essential Simmered Guajillo Sauce Base (1 cup):
  • Roast the unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until soft (they'll blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel.
  • While the garlic is roasting, toast the chiles on another side of the griddle or skillet; 1 or 2 at a time, open them flat and press down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula; in a few seconds, when they crackle, even send up a wisp of smoke, flip them and press down to toast the other side.
  • In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking.
  • Drain and discard the water.
  • Combine the oregano, black pepper and cumin in a food processor or blender, along with the drained chiles, garlic and 1/2 cup (125 ml) or water (or extra broth if you have it).
  • Blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds.
  • (If the mixture won't go through the blender blades, add a little more liquid.)
  • Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy, very large (8-quart) pot over medium-high.
  • When hot enough to make a drop of the puree really sizzle, add the puree all at once and stir constantly until it reduces to a thick paste, about 5 minutes.
  • The Soup Broth:
  • Add the broth and epazote to the soup pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
  • Taste and season with salt and a little sugar, if necessary, to balance any bitterness.
  • Finishing the Soup:
  • Peel the shrimp, leaving the final joint and the tail intact.
  • Devein them by making a shallow incision down the back of each shrimp, exposing the (usually) dark intestinal tract and scraping it out.
  • Add the potatoes to the hot broth.
  • Simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are nearly tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the diced vegetables, cook 3 minutes, then add the corn (if you're using it) and mussels or clams, and simmer until the shellfish open, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the fish cubes, cook 2 minutes, then stir in the shrimp.
  • Remove from the heat, cover and let stand 3 to 4 minutes.
  • While the soup is "resting", rinse the chopped onion in a strainer under cold water.
  • Shake off the excess water and mix with the chopped cilantro in a small serving bowl; place the lime wedges in another serving bowl and set both on the table.
  • Serve the soup in large, warm bowls, passing the garnishes separately.
The soup can be made up through the broth stage several days ahead; cover and refrigerate. If you like this recipe, it comes from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen published by Scribner in 1996. It was the International Association of Culinary Professionals 'Book of the Year'. This appears to be one of the more extensive Mexican cookery books in bookstores today.

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