Parisian Fish Soup

Soupe de poissons Parisienne

Moderately expensive
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • kg ( lb) fresh fish, which must include whiting and can include red mullet, slices of conger eel, small monkfish, small crabs, and gurhards
  • 300 g (10½ oz) onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small whole head of garlic
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes
  • 5 dried fennel twigs (yes, that’s one more than usual)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 150 ml (¼ pint) olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon whole saffron stamens
  • salt, pepper

Equipment

  • 1 saucepan holding 8–10 litres (14–18 pints), as shallow as possible in order to present the maximum area to the fire
  • 1 mouli-légumes
  • 1 fine conical sieve

Method

Preparation

Scale, gut, wash and drain the various fish.

Peel the onions and slice them finely into rounds.

Cut the tomatoes into eight pieces each. Cut the head of garlic into two, horizontally.

Cooking the soup

Soften the onions in the olive oil in the large saucepan and let them turn golden over a brisk heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Then, still over a fierce heat, pile the fish into the pan. Add the garlic, tomatoes and herbs and mix everything together well. Allow the fish and vegetables to sweat for 10 minutes, releasing their juices, then add 5 litres ( pints) cold water.

Still over a fierce heat, bring the soup back to the boil and cook uncovered at a galloping boil for 15–20 minutes. Only then add the salt, pepper and saffron, and sieve through the mouli-légumes. Keep working away and everything except the herbs will go through – fish, tomatoes, garlic. Return to the saucepan and re-boil. Just before serving strain the soup through a fine conical sieve, pressing it through firmly with the back of a small ladle, which you pump rapidly up and down.

If you do not want to serve the soup immediately, set it aside in a cool place. When you are ready to eat it re-heating will bring out its marvellous and mouth-watering fragrance.

Recommended wines

  • any white wine from Provence or from the Côtes du Rhône