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Fish Soup or Bouillabaisse

Fish Soup is a great way to serve a filling main course. The famous Bouillabaisse from Marseille, France, is an inspiring example.

But, just like with pizza, risotto or paella, just work with what you have available, rather than following a recipe that may call for ingredients that may be out of season.  

The Netherlands Nutrition Centre recommends eating fish at least once a week; substituting meat with fish reduces risks for a number of cardiovascular diseases by 15% or more! Fish soup is a great and very flexible meal that can be adjusted to the season. Use fresh fish if you can, but frozen fish is almost as good.

You could make a "white" fish soup, with white wine and cream, or a "red" soup, with tomato. This recipe is for a red fish soup and may resemble a Bouillabaisse.

To start off, put some olive oil in a skillet, heat to a medium temperature and add finely cut an onion or shallot, a celery stalk and a carrot (in French cuisine this is the standard base for many dishes and sauces and called Mirepoix). 

Fry until soft. At this point, I like to add a few fillets of anchovy. The fillets will completely dissolve, but add a great extra layer of taste. Add some Tomates concassées (peeled and de-seeded diced tomatoes) and simmer. Do not overdo the amount of tomato. About 150 gr will be enough.

Add smoked paprika powder and freshly ground black pepper. Smoked paprika will give this soup nice warmth.

At this point, you have a choice. Do I want a clear soup? If not, add some flour and cook with the mixture for a few minutes before the next step. I prefer the clear version. It tastes lighter and more delicate.

Add 1 liter of fish stock (homemade if you have it, otherwise from a jar), half a liter of water and  - optionally of course - a good glass of white wine, and bring to a simmer. Whenever you buy whole fish, make sure you use the leftovers for fish stock. For a suggestion, see this recipe.

Add whichever fish or shellfish you have available to you. Remove any skin. Cut the fish bite size, making sure all the bones have been removed. Cook for no more than five minutes to prevent the fish from falling apart. My favorite ingredients are cod, red mullet and shrimp, but go with whatever is in season. When using frozen fish, make sure the fish is thawed before cooking or increase cooking times.

Season to taste with some sea salt and lime or lemon juice, optionally with some Worcestershire sauce. Serve with some freshly cut flat leaf parsley. As a side, you could serve some fresh French bread with butter. Enjoy!

And, as a final note, make sure your fish was farmed (ASC Certificate) or caught (MSC Certificate) responsibly!