This is another Tunisian fish soup, popular during Ramadan, or indeed at any other time. The recipe for it was given to me by Mme Huerman of Kairouan.
Chop 2 medium onions and fry them lightly in olive oil. Add a teaspoonful of powdered red pepper and 50 g (2 oz) of tomato purée. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add 1 litre (35 fl oz) of boiling water and stir. Next, add the fish – 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) of ‘bouillabaisse’ fish, cleaned – and cook it for 20 minutes. (In any Mediterranean fish market you will find a heap of mixed small fish being sold for soup-making. In Tunisia such a heap is labelled ‘bouillabaisse’ although not many Tunisians use the fish for that particular dish.)
Then take the fish out and pick it over to remove all bones, etc., after which you put the flesh of the fish back in, together with 150 g (5 oz) of pearl barley (orge perle, shorba sha’ir), salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for half an hour or until the barley is well cooked. When you serve the soup add some lemon juice.