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Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:23 am

Soupe de Poisson Provençal Fish Soup


Soupe de Poisson is as much a provençal classic as its more famous cousin, bouillabaisse — and, in my opinion, much better. Adding fish or shellfish makes it more substantial, but the soup is traditional with or without.

  • Large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine or vermouth
  • 2 c. chopped onion, not supersweet
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and chopped (about 1 c.)
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 c. peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 6 c. fish stock, recipe available at IT’s Web site, or substitute bottled clam juice
  • Salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 lb. firm fish filets and/or seafood, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Garnish: Snipped fennel fronds, freshly grated Parmesan, toasted baguette slices, rouille recipe available at IT’s Web site

In a small pan, bring the white wine to a simmer; stir in the saffron; set aside. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and garlic and stir to coat. Cover and let the vegetables sweat until translucent and softened, but not browned, 5-10 minutes. Uncover and add the wine/saffron mixture, the fish stock and the tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Purée the mixture with a hand-held blender, blender, or food processor. If using the blender or food processor, cool the mixture until just warm before puréeing. Season to taste with salt, pepper and possibly a pinch or two of sugar, depending on the vegetables’ sweetness.

Return the mixture to the stove and bring to a simmer. If you are using the fish and/or seafood, add the pieces and simmer just until done. This should only take minutes. Sprinkle the soup with the fennel fronds and serve immediately. Pass the toasts, rouille, and cheese separately for diners to add as they like; the rouille can be spread on the toasts or added separately.

 Serves 3 – 4 as an entrée, 6-8 as an appetizer

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