The first recipe of our last year of cooking through Around My French Table (not to say the last of French Fridays with Dorie), is a simple fish soup/stew, that is both light and filling. You might ask, how does that work? But work, it does. The list of ingredients seems a bit long, but not really, once you look closely. Mostly some aromatics, a vinaigrette and then some fishy stuff. I decided to try the Penzey seafood base (if you follow me, you know my love of the place), because I hadn’t tried it before. I know it will be a great help with gumbos, and other seafood items I make.
This is a simple layering of things – the onion, leek, garlic, (celery), shallot all getting a nice slow cooking in some butter. (note: I did make a half a recipe). The seasonings are salt and white pepper.
The bouquet garni was the trickiest part – how to tie the herbs and bay leaf together with a leek green? Good thing I’m not fussy – I just put them in separately – easy enough to pull the stems out!
Once the vegetables are softened, the broth and bouquet are added and they get to simmer for several minutes. Then chunks of potato are added.
The mixture simmers for another 7-10 minutes, then the fish is added. It is supposed to be in about 1/2″ chunks, and can be a mixture of fish, which sounds great if you’re near the ocean! As it was, I picked up some true cod at WF and then, realizing that I didn’t actually buy enough, supplemented with some scallops I had in the freezer.
Since all of this needed to simmer for another 7-10 minutes, I had time to clean the mussels. The up side to getting them at the same market is that they hand pick ones that are in good shape. The down side is that they aren’t actually cleaned. But easy enough for a pound of mussels to be de-bearded and cleaned.
I was planning to have some for lunch, but really to save this for dinner. One of my mom’s very favorite things: mussels! So I only cooked a few for my lunch. But again, they are simply added to the top, and allowed to steam for a couple of minutes until they open. When I was cleaning them, I thought maybe there were a couple of varieties – I think I was right based on the cooked mussels.
This is to be served in a wide soup bowl with a slice of toasted crusty bread on the bottom. I had just made some bread, but not the crusty kind (the kind my grandmother taught me to make!), so I had it on the side. After tasting the broth, I decided to go ahead and make the optional vinaigrette to go on top as well.
This was pretty delicious! I do think that the vinaigrette is an important element, since it provides a bit of acid to the soup. It really brightened things up. And some nice bread is a must for that delicious broth.
This really was a simple dish. I think I might just add a bit of white wine to the broth. And maybe a bit more garlic. But as is, it is still a terrific dish! Hopefully it will be a hit this evening!! It should be – it’s crisp and cold in the high country in Arizona today – hopefully there will still be a little snow by the time I get there!
If you would like to see how other Doristas fared with this simple breton fish soup, you can check their posts out over at the French Fridays with Dorie site.