Straight Wharf Fish Soup
Makes 3 to 4 quarts
A fish stock is essential for this soup. Many fish markets sell fish stock, or you can prepare your own well ahead of time and freeze it or make fresh stock the day before you assemble the soup. The rouille can be made well ahead. The entire soup base can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Just before serving, reheat and add and cook the fish.
Alternative fish to use: striped bass, cod, haddock, halibut, tilefish, wolfish, monkfish, or other firm-fleshed fish, or a combination of fish and scallops.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cups sliced onions or a combination of onions and leeks
6 cups peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped ripe tomatoes*
Herb bouquet wrapped in washed cheesecloth: 4 sprigs parsley, 1 peeled clove garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
3-4 strips dried orange peel
2 quarts fish stock (see recipe, next page)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot pepper sauce
2 1/2 to 3 pounds skinned and boned fish, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks
5-6 saffron threads
Rouille (see recipe, page 4)
*If you don't have tasty ripe tomatoes, use drained and seeded canned. Omit the steps to release and reduce the juices of the fresh tomatoes.
In a non-aluminum-lined 8-quart soup pot, heat the oil, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until they are wilted and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 5 minutes to release the juice of the tomatoes. Uncover the pan and boil gently for 4-5 minutes to reduce the liquid.
Add the herb bouquet, the orange peel, and the fish stock; bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and a few drops of the hot pepper sauce. Remove and discard the herb bouquet and orange peel. (Cool and refrigerate the soup base at this point, if you like.)
Just before serving, bring the soup base to a boil. Drop in the chunks of fish and the saffron threads. Bring the soup to a gentle boil again and cook until the fish turns opaque, about 4-5 minutes. Add a splash of Pernod, if desired. Serve in warm soup bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve rouille on the side to stir into soup.
(c) 1993 Marian Morash; all rights reserved