I love all fish soups, but I find red mullet gives the best taste. For this soup, fresh or frozen red mullet fillets can be used. Garlic toasts with Rouille are delicious with this soup. Cut a French stick into 1 cm (½ in) slices and spread with some garlic butter (simply mix crushed garlic to taste into softened butter). Toast the slices then top with Rouille.

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Ingredients

  • 225 g (8 oz) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ bunch of fresh basil
  • ½ bunch of fresh tarragon
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 25 ml (1 fl oz) olive oil
  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 450 g (1 lb) red mullet fillets, scaled and sliced into pieces
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) Noilly Prat or dry white vermouth
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) dry white wine
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) Fish Stock
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

Sweat all the chopped vegetables, garlic, herbs and saffron in the olive oil and butter for a few minutes. Add the red mullet fillets, the Noilly Prat and white wine and allow to cook and reduce for 5–6 minutes. Pour on the fish stock and tomato purée. Bring the soup to the simmer and cook for 40 minutes.

Purée the soup in a food processor or liquidizer and push through a sieve. Season with salt and pepper. The soup should be a rich, orangey-red colour with a powerful depth of flavour and eats beautifully with the Rouille toasts.

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