Here is a beautiful fish soup that I made the other night when we had friends round for dinner, the first post-Christmas dinner party of the new year!
|Fish soup with a garnish of parsley and dill on a slice of lemon|
I had already decided on the main course: beef casserole with dried figs, one of my absolute all-time favourites. I made it in advance and packed it away safely in the freezer.
One down, two to go, I thought to myself! Courses, that is.
With that out of the way, I started thinking about a starter. What I wanted was something fishy but not too filling as the casserole along with the bulgur pilaf is quite a meal in itself. The idea of a fish soup grew in my head but definitely not a chowder or one with tomatoes and other vegetables as they serve in the restaurants here, as that would be too much. As we all know, the fish here is excellent.
This particular recipe really fits the bill as it produces a smooth, velvety and elegant soup made from the stock in which the fish gently poaches. The added interest comes from the flaked pieces of the fish itself which you add to the soup towards the end of the cooking time. We liked the extra kick of the juice of one whole lemon – and it was a juicy one!
|For once I had the correct pan for poaching a fish but
you can use any large saucepan.
Any firm, white fleshy fish can be used. The recipe suggests whiting/mezgit, gurnard/kırlangiç, or monkfish/fener. I chose mezgit but I think next time, I will buy kırlangiç, known here (so TT informs me) as ‘the chicken of the sea’ ie white and fleshy! The mezgit was perfectly OK, it flaked beautifully but the taste was a tad too mild for our taste.
|a reproachful glare but oh so fresh: you can tell by its eye|
Anyway, whichever you choose, the idea is to poach it whole, head and all, to get the real Mediterranean fish flavour. Apart from the flour, this soup is very healthy as well as just plain delicious.
|the fishmonger does a great job of cleaning and gutting as you can see|
- Place the fish, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, dill and parsley stalks (chop the leaves for use as a garnish and set aside THERE WILL BE LOTS EXTRA), water and a little salt in a pan. Poach gently – DON’T LET THE WATER BOIL FIERCELY – for about 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily from the bones. Try not to overcook as this will lose valuable flavour.
- Using a straining spoon, transfer the fish to a plate and set aside to cool.
- Strain the fish stock through a sieve into a clean pan, discarding the onion, peppercorns and herbs. When the fish is cool, peel the flesh away from the bones and add this to the fish stock. Reheat the stock gently and set aside. I MADE THIS SOUP IN THE MORNING SO KEPT THE FISH FLAKES SEPARATELY ON A PLATE AND ADDED MUCH LATER.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the olive oil, flour,lemon juice and egg yolks. Into this mixture stir half a cupful of the fish stock.
- Whisk thoroughly, slowly adding a little more stock. Return this mixture to the pan, season with salt and pepper and stir over a gentle heat as the soup thickens. IT’S THE SAME IDEA AS A BECHAMEL: STIRRING IS THE KEY. TAKE IT SLOWLY, ADDING AND STIRRING BIT BY BIT. DON’T PANIC IF IT GOES LUMPY: WITH CONTINUOUS STIRRING, THE LUMPS WILL DISSOLVE. NB IF THEY DON’T, YOU CAN ALWAYS STRAIN THEM AWAY WITH A SIEVE.
|Consistency is important: not too thick, not too thin ; this
picture is before adding the fish flakes
- Serve garnished with sprigs of parsley and dill or a sprinkle of these herbs chopped, and lemon wedges to squeeze over.
|all set for dinner that night!|