September 21, 2005
An Amazing Fish Soup

fish soup.jpgA few years ago, I came across the recipe for Nigel Slater's Fish pie and I fell in love. Cream, potatoes, smoked haddock, it seemed perfect. It was perfect. It was my star piece when we had dinner guests. It was my comfort and joy on a cold winter's night. I pooh-poohed bouillabaise and any variation with all those tomatoes and shellfish. How could it compare to the ultimate comfort food? In vain, my brother tried to convince me that Nigel's French-ish Fish soup (a bouillabaise variation) was better than the creamy pie. He even made it for me and I thought it was good, but not as good as the pie. I don't know why the tomato version left me a bit cold but it did. Until now. Now that I've made it myself and increased the garlic quotient (and incidentally forgot the saffron - must try it with next time) I'm converted. I think it must be a case of all the cosmic elements conspiring to put me right in the mood at exactly the right time. It's the end of the summer and the tomatoes on my terrace are plump and full of flavour. But it's starting to be cool in the evenings and so a hot soup sounds just right. Fall seems like a good season for fish too - you don't have to worry about it sitting out all day in a pool of melted ice.

I think I've read about a million recipes for a soup similar to this so I didn't even bother to crack open a cookbook when I started making it. Thus the forgotten saffron, but it was extraordinarily tasty without it anyway. In fact, though I generally agree completely with Nigel Slater's attitude of "play with my recipes, make them your own" I'm almost tempted to just reproduce this one next time around exactly as it is. Perfect.

Meg's Frenchified Fish Soup (enough for a big pot, 6-8 servings)

450 g shrimp (I bought them cooked but it'll be even nicer if you can get fresh)
300 g halibut
300 g red mullet
2 Roscoff onions
4-6 large juicy cloves of garlic
5 small dried red bird's eye peppers
200 g potatoes (4-5 small ones)
5 small tomatoes
1 glass of dry white wine
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
Garnish:
Garlic croutons
Rouille sauce

Peel the the shrimp (fresh or cooked) and toss the heads, tails and shell bits in a large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a soft barely rolling boil and cook for 20 minutes or so. I dare you to try to peel that many shrimp without giving one or two to the kitty. Mine would bite my kneecaps if I tried.

In the meantime, slice the onions in thin wedges. Clean the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Wash and chop your herbs. Cut the fish in bite-sized chunks. To skin the tomatoes I invented a new trick I'm rather proud of: I used the electric kettle to boil some water and simply poured it over the tomatoes. After about five minutes, the skins were loose and I could peel and chop them. I'm usually too lazy to peel tomatoes and pretend I'm leaving the skins on for the sake of roughage but this is no work at all!

When the kitchen smells lovely and shrimp-like (your cat may come back in sniffing hopefully at this point - mine did), remove it from the fire. Place a colandar in a large bown and pour the shrimp and water into it. Put a little butter in the bottom of the now empty pot and add the onions, roughly chopped garlic and herbs. Cook them to a soft buttery stage and add the chopped tomatoes. Stir for a bit and then add the glass of wine to deglaze. Scrape up any glazed onion-y bits and bring to a boil. Add the strained shrimp stock. Add the potatoes and dried peppers. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes until the potatoes are tender and almost done.

Now you can add the shrimp and fish chunks. If the shrimp are raw, bring to a full boil first and let them cook for a few minutes before adding the fish. You want to make sure they are cooked through, but not over-cook the fish.

Serve with garlic croutons spread with rouille sauce. This adds the perfect, final touch to the dish: garlicky and a little peppery and - though it sounds unappetising - a little oily. I think this might actually be the perfect touch that pushed the soup over the edge for me, from "nice soup" to "amazing soup".

A note on the garnish: I used store-bought rouille and store-bought croutons. In a perfect world where my only responsibility would be to cook and shop I would make these from scratch. But luckily (since I have work and blogging and baby food to make) I live in France where good croutons and rouille can be found. If you want to make your own, toss bread cubes in butter and pressed garlic and bake in a low oven for 10-15 minutes. Then make an aioli (home-made mayonnaise mixed with raw pressed garlic) and add roasted peppers and a few pepper flakes. Process to a smooth paste. Taste for salt and pepper.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at September 21, 2005 2:48 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version
Comments

I've been drooling at this recipe for the past couple of days as it sat in the queue. I will certainly try this with some alllergy-required substitutions for the shrimp (scallops, most likely).

Posted by barrett on September 21, 2005 at 3:50 PM

Hey, when you pour the water over the tomatoes are the tomatoes in a strainer or do they need to sit in the boiling water?

Posted by barrett on September 21, 2005 at 4:43 PM

Barrett, the tomatoes sit in the water for a few minutes. Most cookbooks tell you to boil tomatoes briefly in water to get the skins off, and from this I surmised (correctly) that if you just pour boiling water over them and leave them for a few minutes you'll have the same effect!

Sorry if it wasn't clear...

Posted by Meg in Paris on September 22, 2005 at 2:18 AM

Oh, don't forget the saffron. A deep tomato-y fish soup with saffron will make you very very happy.

And if you don't feel like using hot water to peel your tomatoes, just use this jobby.

Posted by Matt on September 22, 2005 at 9:31 AM

Hmmm...it looks delicious! Fish and seafood are #1 in my diet :)

Posted by Melissa on September 22, 2005 at 11:50 AM

I really love cooking food and this one seems really tasty and I cant wait to try it with my new chicago cutlery steak knives

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Posted by zendesk.com on September 12, 2014 at 7:14 AM

si vous possédez un chien que vous devriez vraiment observer Dog Food Secrets par Andrew Lewis.
Cet e-book va vous montrer la meilleure manière
où il vous faut nourrir votre fidèle compagnon à
4 pattes, dans l'optique qu_il reste en meilleure forme
et une vie longue et heureuse.
Apprendre à rester calme et ne faire aucune agitation au sujet de nos allées et venues enseigne nos
chiens que ce que nous faisons est ne les regarde pas et donc rien à craindre.
C_est la plus sûre façon d_aider notre toutou réduit
leur anxiété de séparation et une seule tâche pour se débarrasser définitivement de ce
problème.
la plupart du temps, la vue de la laisse est suffisante pour entraîner un ajustement
de la joie - le toutou sait que laisse = marche, et réagit par
conséquent.Pour certains bêtes, cependant, la laisse évoque la
peur et la demande plus que toute autre chose.

Peut-être la laisse a été utilisé de façon négative avec un propriétaire
précédent - comme un outil pour faire glisser le chiot près.
C_était peut-être utilisé pour confiner le chien pendant de longues heures à la fois.
Dans certains cas extrêmes, les animaux ont même été fouettée avec la laisse comme une punition. Ou
sûrement votre chien est juste très très tendu, et est enclin à créer des phobies apparemment arbitraire.

Bien que la peur de la laisse peut avoir un impact extrêmement négatif sur vos ballades avec votre toutou,
les bonnes nouvelles sont qu_il est facile à guérir.

Le Dog Food Secrets e-book vous offrira les informations nécessaires pour vous permettre
de initier la nourriture de votre toutou sur le droit
chemin. Vous apprendrez où l'alimentation commerciale, vous devriez rester à l_écart et
par quel biais observer les étiquettes des ingrédients correctement, afin que vous sachiez ce que les entreprises essaient de vous cacher.

Vous trouverez que, tout en nourrissant votre fidèle compagnon à 4 pattes
le bon type de nourriture, vous pourrez d'un côté de prolonger la vie de votre chien,
et l_aider à être plus énergique et heureux tous les
jours de sa vie. A cause de cela, je songe que l_achat des Secrets Dog Food par Andrew Lewis est
à tous les coups la chose la plus importante que vous pourrez s'y prendre pour votre chien de compagnie.

Posted by video gratuite dressage chien d'arret on October 22, 2014 at 12:35 AM
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