Provencal Fish Soup
AGM, is this the kind of thing you mean?Or is the fish also pureed? It is very like what I make, except I use rouille ( the kind from Nice, with saffron)instead of aoli. I don't use cheese, though. (what kind of cheese?)
That recipe is for bourride, which is more of a stew. The soupe de poisson, as found around Nice, is I think what the poster is looking for. There are two related recipes in "Roger Vergé's Cuisine of the South of France" (English tr. copyright 1980, William Morrow); the first, which is the sort we ate at La Pinede (at the foot of the last cliff before you get to Monaco), requires the kind of little rockfish you can't get here. The second is a Parisienne version, for which he suggests Americans use red mullet, small red snapper, goatfish, sea robin, eel, blue-clawed crabs and/or whiting. The recipe serves eight; you'll need six pounds for this, and they must be as fresh as possible. I think it could easily be scaled down. You also need:
5/8 cup olive oil
3/4 lb onions, sliced thin
1 unpeeled head garlic, cut crosswise in half
2 lbs ripe tomatoes cut in eighths
5 dried stalks of fennel, or 2 1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 sprigs thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 bay leaf
coarse salt and fresh-ground white pepper
1/2 tsp saffron theads
Scale, clean and rinse the fish, leaving heads on but removing gills. Wipe dry. Cut large or long fish into handy-sized pieces. Pour the oil into an 8-10 qt wide-bottomed heavy casserole. Cook the onions over medium-high heat; stir frequently with a wooden spoon until onions brown slightly. Turn the heat to maximum and dump in all the fish.
Add the garlic, the tomatoes and herbs. Using two spoons keep turning the fish over, and press down on everything to squeeze the juices out for about ten minutes.
Now add 5 quarts of cold water, bring it to the boil, and let it continue this for 20-30 minutes, still at full heat. Finally, add the salt and pepper and the saffron, and take it off the heat. Strain and degrease a half-cup of the broth for rouille.
Run the soup through a food mill a few cups at a time into a clean casserole. You want to extract as much of the flavor of fish and vegetables as you can, but remove any stems or stalks before they can go through. Just before serving, bring the soup to a boil, then strain it through a very fine sieve into a heated tureen. To serve, place a garlic-rubbed crouton of tasted baguette into each bowl and pour the soup over that. Pass a bowl of rouille for each diner to add to taste. At La Pinede there was also grated cheese offered, I think probably a pecorino (sheep's milk) of some sort.
The rouille is a sort of aioli. Vergé's recipe calls for a cup of diced bread (French, of course), seven Tbs of the hot fish broth, four cloves of garlic, a pinch of saffron, one egg yolk, a half cup of olive oil, salt and pepper - he suggests either white or cayenne. You soak the bread in the broth until it can be mashed into a paste. In a large mortar pound the peeled garlic into a paste, then add the saffron, egg and bread and work them all together. The fun part now is to wield the pestle in a circular motion while pouring in a steady, slow stream of oil. If it falls apart add two Tbs more hot broth (or water) and keep stirring. Then, after all this, he suggests you can use a blender or processor but it should be on the lowest speed.
re: Will Owen
Ours did not taste of fennel at all, or Mrs. O would have hated it. It tasted of the sea, with a good garlic overtone. Yank, most rouille recipes (I think including whatever they gave us at La Pinede) are basically aioli with some saffron and cayenne added. Whenever I make mayonnaise that's approximately what I wind up with, sans saffron.
re: Will Owen
Yes, good recipe.
I wouldn't be too fussy about the type(s) of fish. The French use what's available so long as its white fish & fresh.
Also, don't forget the little toast rounds. These should be rubbed with a peeled clove of garlic one one side before being put into one's bowl of soup. The rouille is then added & julienned cheese spread over the top. Emmental or Gruyere are the traditional cheeses, but a mild cheddar does well.
Here's a recipe: http://www.frenchfoodfocus.com/fish%2....
For this one I used Aoli instead of rouille. Not quite as authentic, but close your eyes & you can't tell the difference.
Enjoy & don't be too hung up about authenticity.
re: Will Owen
You bring back memories of going out with the fishermen from Golfe Juan before first light. We'd 'hand line' those little rock cod. I can still vaguely remember the flavor of the little inch long whole sardine type fish the fisherman's wives would dredge in flour then boil in oil in big pots right on the beach. They would serve them in a piece of news paper.