Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fabulous Fish Soup - guest post by Miss Buckle

This is one of my go-to party dishes, and always a crowd pleaser. Every time I make it I morph it to the people eating it:  their likes, and their dislikes.

Not everyone is that comfortable or acquainted with mussels, or blåskjell -blue shells, as they are known in Norway. Here, they are a cheap delicacy. Soft, melt in your mouth, mild and seafoody goodness.

And they make delicious stock as a base for fish soup. The last time I made it I only used mussels and prawns. Both in season. Both exceptionally fresh. At Julochkas I made it with fish. And I mix the veggies around a lot.

If you, or your guests, are a little scared of mussels then keep them on the side, and start with a few.

Fish Soup (feeds four)

1 kilo mussels (live in the shell)
1/2 to 1 kilo fresh prawns (small, cooked and peeled)
200 grams pink fish (like salmon or trout)
200 grams white fish (like cod or halibut)
1 organic unwaxed lemon
6 cloves of garlic
1 chili (or more, to taste)
2 carrots
1 medium fennel
1 cup white wine (I usually give a good glug to the mussels, and a good glug in the soup)
200 millilitres creme fraiche
Spring onions
Flat leaf parsley
2 tbs butter

Rinse the mussels, discard any crushed ones. Pull off beards. If you have farmed ones, they really don't need cleaning. If you pick them out of the sea, you might want to scrape off the barnacles, and make sure there is no poisenous algae in the ocean. In Norway we have a phone number and a web page to check this. Farmed bought ones are always safe.

First steam the mussels. This only takes about 3 minutes. Cook the mussels in the pot you want to make the soup in, a good glug of white wine, a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and some parsley stalks.

While the mussels steam prep the veggies. I half the peeled carrots and then I slice them diagonally. Just cause I think it looks pretty. The bits match the slices of fennel. I chop spring onion and parsley and set aside for later use.

Mussels done. Drain the stock into a bowl through a colander. Leave mussels to cool while you finish off the veggies.

Clean the mussels. Sometimes I just leave them in the shell, but they are easy to pick out, and you can always keep some in the shell for that rustique look. It is really easy: Empty one shell, and you now have 'tweezers' to pick out the other mussels with.

Start the soup off with four chopped cloves of garlic and chilli in the butter. Add veggies and sweat off. Steam it all off with another good glug of wine, and add your creme fraiche and mussel stock. Make sure you stop before the little gritty bits at the bottom sneak in. Salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can add some water to make more soup. Sometimes you can compensate with a fish stock cube to feep the flavour (but mind the salt).

The soup is ready for fish. Add it in square chunks. Three by three centimetres so they don't fall apart in the soup. Add spring onions.

As soon as the fish is opaque, add the parsley, zest from at least half the lemon, juice from at least half (this is a little about taste, again mind your guests. I like it lemony, Big Man doesn't), prawns and mussels.

That's it. It really isn't complicated, just about having everything ready in advance. For a great supper, serve it with a home made foccacia, or whatever bread you love.

* * *

thank you Anne for being our guest here at domestic sensualists. 
we've been a bit low on cooking mojo of late and this helps.
for more from Miss Buckle, please do check out her blog.


spudballoo said...

Obviously this my idea of a nightmare (non fish eater!) but you're very clever to make these things. And I LOVE the 'phone a friend' to check for dodgy agae. Brilliant!

Bee said...

This sounds deliciously exotic . . . and fills me with beach fantasies. But not really cold North Sea beaches, actually. I'm thinking Greece -- or the south of France.

Thanks so much for guest-posting.

julochka said...

it is a truly glorious soup. i'm so glad you shared it with us. i used leeks in the last batch - their mild taste is so great. i also poured in a little dash of pernod since i didn't have fennel on hand that time. that did the trick nicely.

Michelle said...

I was inspired by the recipe and used it side-by-side the Cook's Illustrated clam chowder recipe, as I was trying to make a chowder with pacific cod and shrimp. I merged the two recipes, dependent on what was on hand and came up with something yummy - thanks for the inspiration! - Michelle/Madison


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