I have been on the hunt for a good arroz caldoso recipe ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain eating a bowl of it in one of his No Reservations episodes, probably one based in Spain as that is where the recipe originated. I couldn’t find too many recipes online for arroz caldoso but I got enough of a basic idea to create my own version. I like my arroz caldoso to be quite thick, almost stew like or resembling a very soupy risotto. As with most soup recipes the quality of the broth has a huge impact on the final dish so making your own stock from scratch is non-negotiable. You can use any mixture of seafood you like but my preference is for prawns, squid and firm white fish fillets. This is a light but very tasty meal that would make both an excellent starter or main course served with some crusty bread.
Ingredients – Serves 4 as a main course
For the stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
pinch of saffron
1.5 litres best quality chicken or vegetable stock
Large piece of meaty fish bones
Heads and shells of 8 prawns
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 large tomato, chopped
For the Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 prawns, heads and shells on so as they can be used in the stock – see above
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
400g squid tubes, cut into bite size pieces
400g of firm white fish fillets cut into 4-6 chunky pieces
400g la bomba or arborio rice
½ teaspoon of mild smoked paprika
Pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
To make the stock, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and when hot add the onion and carrot and fry for a few minutes until lightly coloured. Add the prawn shells and heads and cook stirring and pressing down hard on the shells to release their flavour. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, skimming any scum as it appears. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids.
To make the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions and garlic along with a pinch of salt until fully cooked and soft. Add chopped tomato and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the tomato paste. Stir well and cook for another minute.
Add squid and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the strained stock and bring to a simmer. Add rice and cook on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Add fish and cook for 5 minutes. Then add prawns and cook for a further 5 minutes. By this stage the rice and seafood should be perfectly cooked. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Served garnished with parsley.