Serving
(click to enlarge)

Fish Soup Provençale
France - Provence   -   Soupe de Poissons Provençale

Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
10 soup  
***
3-1/2 hr  
Yes

This famous soup is variously made, but is always puréed and always includes fennel - if you don't have a bulb, use seeds. The method I have composed here avoids using a food mill, which most North America kitchens don't have, but which is essential for traditional methods to eliminate fish bones, peels, etc.. This is a rich soup, so serve in modest quantity.




3
8
------
12
9
3
9
3
------
14
1
5
6
4
1
1/2
------
1
1/3
------
#
c
---
oz
oz
cl
oz
T
---
oz
#
c
in


t
---
t
t
---
Fish (1)
Water
-- Sauté
Onions
Leeks
Garlic
Fennel Bulb
Olive Oil
-- Soup
Potatoes
Tomatoes, ripe
Fish Stock
Rosemary sprig
Thyme sprigs
Bay Leaf
Saffron (2)
-- Finish
Salt
Pepper

Serving
Toasted Bead
Garlic
Rouille (3)

Prep   -   (2 hr)
  1. Prepare your FISH (see Note-1). Scale, clean and fillet the fish. Skin the fillets and put them in the fridge. Complete instructions will be found at Cleaning & Filleting Round Fish.
  2. Put all the heads (with gills removed), bones and fins (but usually not the skins as they have a strong flavor on many fish) in a pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil with the pot open and skim the foam as it comes to a boil, then cover and simmer slowly for about 1/2 hour.
  3. Strain the fish stock, discarding the solids and defat it (use your gravy separator).
  4. Chop ONION small.Trim LEEK to white and light green (see Photo), split lengthwise down to the root end and wash well . Slice thin. Crush GARLIC and slice medium. Slice FENNEL thin. Mix all.
  5. Peel POTATOES and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Hold in cold water until needed.
  6. Peel TOMATOES and cut into small chunks.
Run   (1.5 hrs)
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot heat Olive Oil and fry Onion mix over moderate heat, stirring often, until light golden.
  2. Meanwhile:   cut Fish Fillets into the size chunks you want for service - see Note-4.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the Fish Stock up to a boil, then stir in Fish Chunks. As soon as you see the first bubbles turn the heat off or to extremely low and allow to poach for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside. A few fragments of fish left in the stock won't hurt anything.
  4. When Sauté is done, stir in All Soup Items, including the Fish Stock, and bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer and cover. Cook until potatoes are well cooked.
  5. Remove the Bay Leaf and Herb Stems. Run all the rest in your food processor until well puréed (or run through a food mill as traditionally done in France).
  6. Return to the pot, season with Salt and Pepper. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile: Put your tea kettle on and boil up some water - because this soup may look plenty liquid in the pot, but when poured over a piece of toast in a bowl it may turn into paste. Dilute with boiling water as needed.
  8. Serve hot - see Note-4.
NOTES:
  1. Fish:   These should be whole salt water fish, with heads and tails - one or several varieties. Select fish that make a good fish stock and also stay fairly firm when wet cooked. Avoid both the mildest and the strongest fish. You want your fish stock fairly light, but not flavorless. For details see our Varieties of Fish page (very large file). You can probably ask your fish market to scale and gut the fish, but from there on it's up to you. For complete instructions see Cleaning & Filleting Round Fish.
  2. Saffron:   The pattern recipe calls for 1/2 t ground saffron. That's about 1 gram and at anywhere between U.S.$5 and $18 per gram (depending on source) this is a pretty tall order. Even back in 1964 Mapie, Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec, suggested turmeric as a substitute, but turmeric doesn't have the aroma or flavor. Cheapskate that I am, I compromise and put in a generous pinch of saffron threads for aroma and 1/4 t turmeric for color.
  3. Rouille:   This somewhat spicy sauce is used in Provence with fish soup, raw vegetables and potatoes and is considered nearly essential with this soup. It is variously made - for a few recipes see Rouille.
  4. Serving Options:   This soup is served in several ways, but toasted bread and garlic are always included.
    1. Puréed:   In this method the fish is simply cooked in the soup rather than separately as described above (put it in near the end of cooking). It gets puréed along with the rest of the ingredients. A slice of toasted bread, rubbed with a cut clove of garlic or spread with Rouille, is placed in a bowl and the soup ladled over.
    2. Stacked:   In this method the fish is cooked separately as I've indicated above, cut into fairly large chunks. A toast, rubbed with garlic or smeared with Rouille, is placed in the bowl, a chunk of fish is placed on top and the soup ladled over or around according to presentation style, and perhaps a garnish.
    3. Buffet:   This is my California style service. The fish, cut in smaller chunks, is stirred into the finished soup, which is kept warm in a slow cooker. A bowl of toasted bread squares (cut about 1 inch on a side (and rubbed with garlic if you have the patience for it)) is placed on the table, and a bowl of Rouille for those who desire it. Encourage guests to put the toast (spread with rouille or not as they wish) in the bowl before ladling in the soup, but there's no use bitching if they don't do it that way.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
fof_proven1 100418   -   www.clovegarden.com
©Andrew Grygus - agryg@aaxnet.com - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page is permitted.