Bouillabaisse (Mediterranean Seafood Soup) | JC100 – Week 10

Well let me start this post off with explaining why this recipe is a bit late…. Saskatchewan was slammed with a heat and humidity wave all of last week and the last place I wanted to be was inside, let alone my kitchen (my house was 27°C in the evening…. I don’t even want to know what the humidity levels were inside) and to start boiling a hot pot of soup….Nope – no thanks! Originally, I was hoping to do some walleye fishing and use some local fish, but then got rained out on that plan. Because of the rain, I headed to the grocery store to buy some seafood and was happy that I found some mussels. To continue the adventure, when I got home I opened the package and was hit with the nasty smell of seafood gone bad – wowza, talk about an awful smell. Note to others: if the mussels are even SLIGHTLY open, they have spoiled! So much for mussels in the soup. I was a bit sad too because I knew their beautiful shells would add an extra dimension to the plating. But in good news, the heat cooled off thanks to buckets of rain and I was able to make the soup. So now that it’s here, let’s get to this recipe…
Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Ingredients

  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 3/4 cup of minced leek (or 1/2 cup more onions)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1 lb of ripe, red tomatoes roughly chopped, or 1 1/2 cups drained canted tomatoes, or 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 10 cups water
  • 6 parsley springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme or basil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 2 big pinches of saffron
  • A 2-inch piece or 1/2 tsp dried orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt (none if clam juice is used)
  • 3 to 4 pounds fish heads, bones and trimmings, or 4 cups clam juice, 6 cups, and no salt
  • 6 to 8 pounds assorted lean fish, and shellfish if you wish
I found the soup a bit bland, so I actually doubled up on all the spices and herbs, and even then it was a bit bland. However the rouille helps with that.
Instructions
  1. Cook the onions and leeks slowly in olive oil for 5 minutes or until almost tender but not browned.
  2. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat to moderate and cook 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the water, herbs, seasonings, and fish heads, bones and trimmings to the kettle (or clam juice) and cook uncovered at a moderate boil for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Strain the soup into the saucepan, pressing juices out of ingredients. Correct seasoning, adding a bit more saffron if you feel it necessary.
  5. Bring the soup to a rapid boil 20 minutes before serving. Add lobsters, crabs, and firm-fleshed fish. Bring quickly back to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Add the tender-fleshed fish, the clams, mussels, and scallops. Bring rapidly to the boil again and boil 5 minutes more or until the fish are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook.
  6. Immediately lift out the fish and arrange on the platter. Correct seasoning, and pour the soup into the tureen over rounds of French bread. Spoon a ladleful of soup over the fish, and sprinkle parsley over both fish and soup. Serve immediately accompanied by the optional rouille.
 
To prepare the fish for cooking, have them cleaned and scaled. Discard the gills. Save heads and trimmings for fish stock. Cut large fish into crosswise slices 2 inches wide. Scrub clams. Scrub and soak the mussels. Wash scallops. If using live crab or lobster, split them just before cooking. remove the sand sack and intestinal tube from lobsters.

Rouille

You can also make a simple Rouille which adds a bit of heat and an extra layer of flavour to the soup. It’s also super easy to whip up if you have a food processor (if not, you can just mash it by hand).
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 small chilli pepper, seeded
  • 1 medium peeled potato (cooked in the bouillabaisse)
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1 tsp. basil or thyme
  • 4 Tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Start by boiling your red pepper and chilli until both are soft. Once they’ve had a chance to boil for roughly 15 minutes, put the pepper, chilli, boiled potato, garlic, basil or thyme, olive oil and the salt and pepper into a food processor and whip together until smooth. This should be served in a tureen and added to the soup right before eating.

Pair your Bouillabaisse and Rouille with some toasted French Bread (drizzle with olive oil for some extra flare) and a rose wine. Hope you enjoy this simple seafood soup – another fabulous recipe from Julia Child.

Carlene

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