Dorset fish soup with spicy rouille and croutons

This super simple, spicy soup is like a turbo charged Bouillabaisse, the more delicate saffron and  fish soup beloved of the Cóte d’Azur.

This more punchy, more robust version is a little less refined, but more than makes up for it by paying you back in a fad deeper complexity of flavour. You can play very fast and loose with the ingredients, using whatever fish pieces and bones, trimming and shells you have to hand.

For the stock:

Note : You do not need to make your very own stock here, a supermarket version will do or even a powdered one at a real push, but it will be worth dressing it up a bit, taste it, add a little more garlic, chilli, a few prawn shells perhaps, a little bit of tomato puree, and give it a simmer for a few minutes, no one will ever know!

  • 250g flat fish bones
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon good tinned tomatoes
  • a little olive oil
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • A splash of white wine
  • water
  1. Begin by frying the fish bones in olive oil in a large enough pan to hold the bones and other ingredients. As they begin to change colour add the veg and spices and cook to intensify for around 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Add the wine and allow to cook out – 2 mins.
  • Add enough water to just cover the bones – simmer for around 1 hour before leaving to cool on the bones.
  • Pass off the fluid and reserve.

For croutons:

  • A few thin slices of baguette olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. Sprinkle the bread slices with olive oil, salt and pepper – place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden brown.

For the rouille:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon harissa paste
  • 2 anchovies
  • juice of half a lemon
  • enough olive oil to make into a thick, mayonnaise type emulsion.
  1. Place all the ingredients bar the oil in a blender and switch it on. Drizzle in the olive oil until a thick emulsion is formed. Correct the seasoning.

To finish the soup

  • 150g fish pieces (Grey mullet / mussels / cockles / cod / bass / plaice/ Gurnard / whatever you have)
  • a little flour
  • A little finely grated hard cheese
  • A pinch of chopped parsley.
  • Light olive oil
  1. Place a good frying pan on the stove that you can trust. Season the fish pieces and dust with flour (except shell fish) add a little light oil to the pan and begin to cook the fish skin side down.

  2. Once the fish is half cooked, add enough stock to just cover the fish and add any shell fish. Simmer rapidly for a minute or two or until the shell fish open if you are using any.
  • Turn the heat right down and add a desert spoonful of rouille. Swirl the pan to mix everything together nicely.
  • Pour or ladle the soup into a bowl, add croutons, then cheese and finally more rouille and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
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