Peel each prawn: Pull of its head and then grab the legs to pull away its shell; reserve the shell. Remove the bowels (the black vein) on its back with a paring knife. Set aside 8 prawns, the prettiest, covered in the fridge, for garnish.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the prawn shells for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, and paprika and fry everything for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Douse with the brandy and cook for another 2 minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated somewhat. Add the tomatoes and stock and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peeled prawns for the final 5 minutes and simmer until cooked through.
In two batches, puree the soup in a blender until completely smooth. Puree for a good long while; it should be as smooth as possible. Give it more time than you think is necessary. Pour the smooth pureed soup through a sieve that you’ve placed over a clean saucepan and press the soup through with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard grit or shells that stay behind. Thin the soup with a dash of water or stock if you find it too thick. Let the soup cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Puree all the ingredients for the rouille in the cleaned blender to a smooth sauce. Taste to see if it needs more lemon juice, Tabasco, or mustard, and finish the sauce to your own preference. It doesn’t need to be too thick. Later on you’ll stir it into the soup.
Heat the soup.
Fry the reserved prawns on both sides in some oil, for 2 minutes max.
Ladle the soup into nice deep plates, swirl the rouille in the soup, and garnish with the fried prawns and the fennel fronds. Grind some pepper over the soup and serve.
© 2018 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.