It’s Friday – around Berghoff the phone is ringing off the hook with orders for fish sandwiches. It must be Lent. It all began a few weeks with Ash Wednesday and will come to a close with Easter. Throughout this time Berghoff will see 500+ fish sandwiches fly out of here. #MeatlessFridays as the Popes are calling it on Twitter, or Fish Fridays is how we refer to it around here.
Nonetheless, if you’re Catholic and it’s Lent, meat is off limits. That’s the practice in my house today and has been for over 2,000 years in the Catholic Church. It can be difficult at times, and like most of us, I forget and slip every now and then. As with anything in life, I find it easiest to conquer the challenge of meatless Fridays with a fully armed repertoire of meatless meals.
So for the first Meatless Friday post, I thought it would be best to take a tip from our history (Berghoff’s history that is). For at least sixty years, and long before this stew became trendy, Berghoff’s served bouillabaisse on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday lunch and dinner menu. In Chicago, payday was on Friday, and people would cash their checks and treat themselves to lunch or dinner. For Catholics, bouillabaisse was a Friday luxury. Like all Berghoff classics, it’s easy to make. Today’s bounty of available fresh seafood makes it great. While it calls for a variety and large amount of fresh seafood, it really is one of those amazingly delicious Lenten favorites!
I encourage you to save this one for a special occasion in the next few weeks – your guests will be sure to thank you. Happy Lent and cheers to a Meatless Friday.
For at least sixty years, and long before this stew became trendy, Berghoff’s served bouillabaisse on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday lunch and dinner menu. In Chicago, payday was on Friday, and people would cash their checks and treat themselves to lunch or dinner. (And for Catholics, bouillabaisse was a Friday luxury.) Thursday? Perhaps customers were anticipating the prosperity ahead. Saturday? They were still flush. Like all Berghoff classics, this is easy to make. Today’s bounty of available fresh seafood makes it great.
- 2 quarts fish broth
- 2 cups canned, diced tomatoes
- 1 cup julienned celery
- 1 cup julienned leeks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 48 mussels, debearded and scrubbed (3 pounds) (see Note)
- 32 littleneck clams, scrubbed (3 pounds) (see Note)
- 1 pound fresh salmon fillet, cut into 16 pieces
- 1 pound fresh halibut filler, cut into 16 pieces
- 4 (4-ounce) lobster tails, shelled and halved
- 32 raw shrimps, peeled and deveined (1 pound)
- Salt and ground black pepper
In a heavy 2-gallon stockpot, combine the fish broth, tomatoes, celery, leeks, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and saffron. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Keep warm.
When ready to serve, add all the seafood. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes to allow the flavors to develop, the shellfish to open, and the other seafood to cook through. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle into eight large soup plates or bowls, and serve with a simple tossed green salad and crisp, warm garlic bread.
Discard any raw mussels or clams that do not close tightly when you touch them.