Spicy seafood stew will cure what ails you.
Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB


Superabundant dispatch: Spicy seafood stew and this week’s news nibbles

By Heather Arndt Anderson (OPB)
Jan. 12, 2024 2 p.m.

Soup will solve all your problems

OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for a spicy seafood stew inspired by the ocean bounty of the Northwest.

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It’s mid-January, and hopefully the plague that swept everyone’s holidays off track has passed. Was the one-two punch of having a cold followed immediately by COVID a bit much? Yes, but on the bright side, it also made the first two weeks of Drynuary a little more bearable. After over-the-counter medicine did all it could, it turned out that garlicky, spicy broth — and gallons of it — was the true MVP (most valuable pottage). Garlic’s natural antibiotic effects come from the organic compound that gives garlic its signature vampire-repelling flavor — what is it called? Read on to find out!

Cling-free coffee, Oregon food and bev makers in the headlines, railway rigatoni and good things in markets

Better living (and lattes) through science

At the University of Oregon’s coffee lab, chemists and volcanologists work together to reduce the static of the daily grind, and OPB’s Crystal Ligori talked with Dr. Coffee himself on “All Things Considered.”

Good Food Awards announces its 2023 finalists

The Good Food Awards has announced its finalists, and it comes as no surprise that Oregon-made products are well represented on the list. These folks are in good company — previous winners include Olympia Provisions and Sibeiho — and a place on the list can have a huge impact on small companies. Congrats to the 27 Oregon finalists! (Disclosure: “Superabundant” newsletter writer Heather Arndt Anderson was an unpaid judge in the 2023 awards’ blind taste test.)

Freeland Spirits

Forbes cocktails writer Ronnie Koenig named women-owned and operated distillery Freeland Spirits the top pick for distilleries to visit in 2024. OPB’s Elizabeth Castillo chatted with Freeland’s master distiller Molly Troupe about how she got into the spirits biz on “Think Out Loud” last fall.

New home for Old Spaghetti Factory

Eugene pasta lovers, you’re on the right side of the tracks — the Old Spaghetti Factory is opening a new location in the 90-year-old Oregon Electric Railway Station building, reports KLCC’s Rachel McDonald. Jan. 10 marks the 55th anniversary of the Portland-born, trolley-themed Italian restaurant.

Good things in markets

Crisp-spicy and colorful winter radishes are keeping the crudités exciting, but we’ve been eating our weight in radicchio Caesars made with the gorgeous variety available now — blushing Rosa de Veneto, freckled Castelfranco and deep claret Rosso di Chioggia are sweet and tender with just the right amount of bitterness (we dress it in a mix of lemon juice, bottled Lebanese garlic sauce and a smashed anchovy, then top it with a snowfall of parmesan and butter-toasted bread crumbs).

This week we’re also loving Savoy cabbage, looking like a debutante in all those pastel green ruffles. We’re using some for cabbage rolls stuffed with a mix of seasoned ground beef and brown rice, and using the other half for making borscht (carrots and beets are also ideal foods for the season).

On Jan. 5, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the open dates for the 2023-24 Dungeness crab season; as of Feb. 1, the remaining sections of the Oregon Coast will finally open for commercial crabbing. The season’s first fresh crabs are currently available at Fisherman’s Market in Eugene and other seafood markets around the region.

Recipe: Spicy seafood stew to cure what ails you

This spicy seafood stew will cure what ails you.

This spicy seafood stew will cure what ails you.

Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB

COVID-and-cold season has been taking its toll around these parts, and when nasal congestion has robbed you of your sense of smell there’s only one panacea: antiseptic levels of garlic and chile. Garlic’s allicin and chile’s capsaicin both have antimicrobial properties that, while maybe not working the same in a bowl of soup as they do in a Petri dish, are more pleasant to spoon into your mouth than cough syrup.

Though it draws some inspiration from French cooking, this spicy soup defies the canon set in place by the Bouillabaisse Charter — with copious amounts of paprika and cayenne, it’s got a Low Country drawl that takes it almost into halászlé (Hungarian fisher’s soup) territory. When it comes to cooking, some rules were meant to be broken! (To wit, we added a blob of Thai crab paste and ground lovage seed to add an extra punch of flavor.) Use any seafood you like here, though a mild, white-fleshed fish like rockfish or Pacific cod will work better than salmon. Makes 4-6 servings


2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, sliced

1 fennel bulb, sliced (reserve the fronds)

1 tbsp Thai crab paste (optional)

3 tbsp paprika (preferably 2 tbsp sweet and 1 tbsp hot, or 3 tbsp sweet + 1 tsp cayenne)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp ground lovage seed or celery salt

6 cups seafood stock or fish fumet

3 tbsp tomato paste

Salt to taste

4 small waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), sliced

3 lbs seafood, preferably a mix of mild, white-fleshed fish (like rockfish, cod or hake) with shellfish (like shrimp, clams or mussels)3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley Crusty bread for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, leek and fennel until they become glossy and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the crab paste (if using), paprika, black pepper and lovage seed or celery salt and stir to coat the vegetables. Stir-fry for a minute to activate the seasonings in the hot oil.
  2. Add the seafood stock and tomato paste, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste and breaking up any clumps of spices. Bring to a boil, then taste the broth and adjust salt as needed. (If you used store-bought fish stock and celery salt it may need less salt added.)
  3. Add the potatoes and once the pot comes back to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it bubble away until the potatoes are nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the seafood and simmer until the fish is opaque, the shrimp are pink and firm and the clams or mussels have opened, about 5-8 minutes. Discard any clams or mussels that didn’t open.
  4. Serve garnished with the chopped parsley and reserved fennel fronds and break open a loaf of crusty bread for dipping. (A dollop of sour cream is also nice to quell the heat.)

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