A Creamy Garlic Fish Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For


    people (you must make this recipe for at least that many)

Appears in

The Cuisine of the Sun

By Mireille Johnston

Published 1990

  • About

This unctuous, savory cream soup is a tradition in the South, from Marseilles to Monaco. Since either whiting and bass or cod are available year round in the United States, you may serve this soup in any season.

The chunks of fish are removed from the soup and served separately. I like to serve the fish as a second course after the soup, but most Niçois prefer having everything arrive on the table at the same time. Choose a bright crockery dish, since both the soup and the fish have a pale color.


  • pounds of three different fish in any proportions (choose among striped bass, ocean perch, whiting, pollack, haddock, cod, flounder, halibut)
  • 1 whole leek, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cups dry white wine
  • cups water
  • 3 2-inch pieces of orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel or anise
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 slices good white bread for making Croutons
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups Aïoli
  • sprigs of parsley


Fillet the fish (do not discard the heads and bones) or ask to have this done at the fish market. Stew the leek, onion, and carrot in the olive oil for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the fish heads and bones only, then the wine, water (more if necessary), orange rind, fennel or anise, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and skim off the froth. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain into a pot, pushing as much of the bits of fish through as possible.

Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch-square pieces. Bring the soup stock to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and put in the heavier pieces of fish first, adding the lighter, more delicate ones later. The whole cooking time should be about 6 minutes for the entire batch.

Meanwhile, warm a platter in the oven, set at 200°. Place the fillets on the platter and pour a ladleful of warm broth over them. Seal with aluminum foil and keep the fish warm in the oven. Reserve the soup.

Prepare aïoli sauce. Put 8 tablespoons of this in a bowl and slowly add the egg yolks, stirring gently. Refrigerate the rest of the aïoli to use later. Prepare the croutons.

Reheat the stock over a low flame. Beat half of it very slowly into the aïoli-tgg mixture with a wooden spoon, then pour this mixture back into the rest of the soup (be sure the flame is low or the soup will curdle). Keep stirring and cook until the soup has thickened enough to coat a spoon as with custard. When the soup has been reduced to a velvety texture, ladle it onto the croutons and serve as a first course.

As a following course, remove the foil from the platter of fish, garnish with parsley and serve with the bowl of chilled aïoli.


Serve the soup over both the fillets of fish and the croutons, and pass the bowl of aïoli separately.