Saffron & Seafood Soup

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Exquisite and delicate Mediterranean saffron broth with vegetables, seafood, herbs, and spices!

Prep time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6 people

Soy/Dairy/Gluten Free and Pesco-Vegetarian

Out of all my soups you find here in this website, I would say this one is my favorite one. It is delicate yet flavorful. The saffron gives such a distinctive note and bright redish-orange color, which makes the soup more appetizing and aromatic. This one is just pure gastronomic indulgence given that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. But trust me... it is worth it.

This is a traditional soup that can be found in coastal towns along the eastern Mediterranean. Simple ingredients, yet very effective. That's what makes it so delectable. I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

What is the flavor profile?

I honestly describe it as testing like the sea and saffron. Complex flavors yet fresh.

What is saffron?

Crocus sativus L., otherwise known as saffron, is one of the most expensive spices in the world. As a rule of thumb, the deeper the color of saffron threads, the better the quality. Deep red with orange tips is considered to be the best. Real saffron threads are fine and evenly sized, with a thin yellow tendril on one end and what looks like a flute on the other side.  The color of saffron threads is a deep red. The highest quality saffron threads have the most minimal yellow stem and the highest amount of crocin, one of saffron's key essential oils.

Saffron is native to Southern Europe and is cultivated in Spain, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan and certain Indian states. Saffron is often used in the production of cosmetics, pharmaceutics and textile-dye industries, as well as cooking.

At a price of $3,000 to $8,000 per pound, saffron is by far the most expensive food on earth. Saffron is infamously expensive, but as just a pinch of good saffron will enliven a dish, it won't break the bank. 

First, an explanation of saffron's expensive price. Saffron threads are the stamens of the crocus, a high-maintenance flower with difficult, generally low yields. Each flower blooms only one week each year and produces 3-4 stamens, which must be picked by hand, then dried, making the entire process extremely labor intensive and, thus, expensive.

You can buy 0.06 oz (1.7 g) of saffron from less than US$ 20.00 at your local grocery or spice store. All you will need is a pinch and the rest can be stored until needed.

What does saffron taste like?

Saffron has a subtly earthy & grassy flavor & aroma, yet sweet, similar to floral & honey. No spice is more special than saffron. With an unmistakable scent and flavor,  saffron straddles sweet and savory effortlessly, and it bestows a striking golden hue on every dish it graces. A few strands of saffron will transform a long list of dishes, adding a mysterious allure to everything from risottos and milk puddings to rich curries and fish stews.

What ingredients will I need for this recipe?

Saffron, seafood (white fish, shrimp, squid, clams, mussels, etc...), onions, garlic, green and red bell peppers, potatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, clam juice or seafood stock, whole cumin, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper, sugar, white wine, and Italian parsley.

What else will I need to make this recipe?

You will need a cutting board, a knife, a measuring cup, and a large pot.

Are there other recipes on this website that call for saffron?


Seafood Paella

Chicken & Saffron Soup


  • 1 medium sweet onion (diced finely)

  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)

  • 1 green bell pepper (seeded and julienne)

  • 1 red bell pepper (seeded and julienne)

  • 8 small dutch potatoes (peeled and quartered)

  • 1 teaspoon of whole cumin

  • 1 generous pinch of saffron threads

  • 1 15oz can of crush tomatoes (drained)

  • 3 teaspoons of tomato paste

  • 4 cups of clam juice or seafood stock

  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red peppers

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  • 1/2 cup of white wine

  • 12 large shrimps (shelled and deveined)

  • 1 pound of cod, sole, red snapper, or sea bass filets (cut into small pieces)

  • 1 pound of squid (tubes and tentacles)

  • 1 6.5oz can of mince clams

  • Mussels, lobster, crab meat, or mini scallops (optional)

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 to 4 lemons

  • Italian parsley for garnishing


  1. Add tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions, whole cumin, green and red peppers, garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, crushed red peppers, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, clam or seafood stock, wine, and saffron. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. Add the seafood and simmer for another 8 minutes or until all the seafood is cooked.

  3. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh chopped parsley, and serve with lemon quarters.


Printable PDF Recipe File below:

Saffron & Seafood Soup
Download PDF • 14.37MB

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