Fish soup recipe


Although bouillabaisse gets all the press and inclusion on U.S. menus, a more common fish soup found regularly in the Mediterranean coastal area of Provence is this simple yet great recipe, which uses some of the smaller and less desirable of the Mediterranean fish. As with all things seafood, the quality of this stew is dependent on the quality of the fish, so be sure to use fresh bones and whole fish. Remember check the gills and the eyes to determine freshness.

  • Yield: 3 gallons, or 48 portions (8 ounces/portion)


For Cleaning the Fish
  • 2 lbs Fish Bones, from lean fish such as halibut, sole, or cod (make sure it is fresh!)
  • 6 lbs Whole Fish (preferable bony Mediterranean fish such as whiting, eel, or gurnard; if these are not available, use other whole lean fish such as those mentioned above or rock cod, snapper, etc. Again, the fish needs to be fresh!)
For Making the Soup
  • 2 oz Olive Oil
  • 1 lb White Part of Leeks, diced medium, about two average bunches
  • 1 lb Yellow Onions, diced medium
  • 8 oz Carrots, diced medium
  • 2 oz Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 2 lbs Tomatoes, concasséed
  • 1 oz Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup Parsley, minced (about ½ bunch)
  • 16 oz Dry White Wine
  • Cleaned Fish
  • 2 gallons Water
  • ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Salt, to taste
How to Make It
    For Cleaning the Fish
  1. If the fish are not already gutted, do so first, making sure to cut through the membrane at the back of each fish’s gut against the backbone that covers the blood line; rinse and rub the blood line out. (The fish may be gutted but the blood line still may need to be cleaned out.)
  2. If the fish are not scaled, scale the fish as well.
  3. Remove the gills of the fish by cutting the narrow section in the bottom of each fish’s neck between the two gill openings and then cutting the gills off from each side, where they attach to the inside of the head (you should be able to get them both out in one piece, if this is done correctly).
  4. Rinse the fish off well under cold running water, cut the fish into smaller pieces (if they will not fit into the pot you intend to use), and set the fish in the refrigerator until you are ready to start the soup.
  5. For Making the Soup
  6. Over a medium flame, heat a pot that is large enough to hold all of the ingredients, and add the olive oil.
  7. Once the oil gets hot, add the leeks, onions, and carrots, and sweat the aromatic vegetables in the oil until they are tender and the onions become translucent (about 15 minutes).
  8. Once the vegetables are tender, add the garlic and tomato concassee, and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, watching the heat to make sure that there is no coloring.
  9. After cooking the garlic and tomatoes for 5 minutes, add the tomato paste and parsley, and deglaze the pan with the white wine.
  10. Add the fish to the pot at this time, and cook for a couple minutes over a high flame before adding the water, pepper, and salt; bring the mixture to a simmer.
  11. Once the soup reaches a simmer, adjust heat so that it doesn’t boil, and allow the soup to simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until the fish are completely tender and falling apart (length of time will depend on size and type of fish used).
  12. Once the fish are completely tender, place an immersion blender in the pot and puree everything together (the bones, too!). If an immersion blender is not available, the soup can be pureed in a food processor in batches be careful when doing this, however, because it is hot!
  13. Once the soup has been puréed until relatively smooth, strain the soup through a China cap to remove all of the remaining particles.
  14. Taste the soup and adjust with salt, if necessary
  15. Serve the soup with croutons and, if desired, aioli or rouille.

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