Whether we like it or not, us kosher cooks are sometimes limited when it comes to certain flavors. The iconic bouillabaisse is a case in point, with its distinctive flavors drawn from the mix of seafood used to make the dish. Whenever I see recipes for any type of fish soup, seafood is a requirement, so…next! It’s disappointing.
Last week, I came across a New York Times recipe for Fish Soup, where the main ingredient was actually just fish. I got very excited and I immediately tested it out. It was everything it promised to be. It had that perfect taste of the sea, with a flavorful tomato base. The dish is light and healthy, but is still excellent comfort food for the winter.
Make this and impress your friends and family. It’s a good one!
You can serve this as a main course or a first course – my quantities here are for a first course. You can prepare the soup ahead of time and heat it up just before you want to cook the fish. Make sure you have some hot crusty fresh bread to go along with it.
1 kg (2 lbs) firm white-fleshed fish fillets, skin removed – I used “mussar yam” (Red Drum), you can also use “locus” (Bass), “denis” (sea bream) or cod
6 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
6-8 anchovy fillets, soaked in water for 4 minutes, drained and rinsed
1-2 large onions, chopped
3 sticks of celery, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1.2 kg (42 ounces) canned chopped tomatoes (a big can and small can)
1.5 liters water
800g (1.5 lb) small baby potatoes, washed and quartered (they should be small bite sized pieces).
A bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, a few sprigs of fresh thyme (use half a teaspoon of dried thyme if you don’t have fresh), half a red chilli (deseeded) or a whole one if you want a little more spice in the soup – tied together with string (if you don’t have string kicking around, don’t worry)
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of chopped fresh parsley
How to do it
- In a pestle and mortar crush the garlic cloves, ½ a teaspoon salt and the anchovy fillets and mash. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic in a garlic press, chop the anchovies as finely as possible with a knife and mix together well in a small bowl with the salt. Set aside
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot and add the onion, celery, carrot and ½ a teaspoon of salt, and saute until the onion is tender, about five minutes.
- Add the garlic and anchovy and stir together, cooking for another about 1 minute. Smell that!
- Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and turn down the heat and simmer, stirring every now and again, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the water, potatoes, salt to taste, and the bouquet garni. (If you don’t have string, throw all the components in to the soup and fish them out before you serve.) Bring the soup to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover partially and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and add pepper to taste. Remove the bouquet garni when it’s finished simmering.
- Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper on both sides, and stir the fish into the hot soup. The soup should not be boiling. Simmer for five to 10 minutes or just until the fish falls apart when poked with a fork. When the fish fillets are cooked, pull the fish apart into smaller pieces.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped parsley, and add more seasoning if required.
Serves about 8 as a side dish