Caribbean Seafood Pepper Pot


Gently spiced with ginger, lemongrass, and star anise, this pepper pot soup is both warming and light. Recipe adapted, with permission, from Nina Compton.

Caribbean Seafood Pepper Pot
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 navel orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 4 (6-ounce) grouper fillets
  • ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (¼-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece lemongrass, smashed
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • Lobster Stock (recipe follows)
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Garnish: fennel fronds, fresh mint, fresh basil
  1. In a medium glass bowl, combine ¼ cup oil and zests. Add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. In an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven, cook onion, ginger, serrano, and lemongrass over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add squash; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add Lobster Stock and coconut milk; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Let stand until slightly cooled, about 30 minutes; discard lemongrass. Using an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. Keep soup warm.
  4. Remove fish from oil mixture, reserving 2 tablespoons oil mixture. In a a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat reserved 2 tablespoons oil mixture over medium heat. Add shallot and fennel; cook until golden brown. Stir in citrus juices and vinegar; cook until almost all juices have evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and wipe skillet clean.
  5. In same skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add fish; cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat; sprinkle with salt.
  6. To serve, ladle 1 cup soup in 4 shallow soup bowls. Place one fish fillet in each bowl, and top with vegetables. Garnish with fennel fronds, mint, and basil, if desired.
KITCHEN TIP-Nina makes her lobster stock from scratch using leftover shells. Using lobster base helps achieve a similar flavor with a little less effort. Chicken, vegetable, or another seafood stock will work as well–just be sure to steep with the spices. They add deeper flavor to the finished soup.

Lobster Stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lobster base
  • 1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 star anise
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, bring all ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding solids.



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