Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Faux Bouillabaisse aka Fish and Fennel Soup


Soft snow covers the ground. A wintry wind whistles through the trees. And I find myself making soup again. Something different, something piquant...outside the usual regurgitated standards. I rummage in the vegetable drawer and find fennel. Then I find some fish in the freezer along with a bag of my summer tomatoes. Ideas float until I am inspired to make an aromatic bouillabaisse-like concoction. 

Here we go... Some chopped onion, lots of garlic, thin slices of fennel, boiled potatoes, lemon, lots of pulpy tomatoes, paprika, saffron and a whole red chile...the last one is the Indian in me!! Throw all these items together and along with some fish..voila...soup's done. 

Serves 4-6

1 large Onion
4 Garlic cloves
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Fennel bulb
4 Lemon slices
1 cup cooked Potatoes
4 large Tomatoes or 1 14oz can of Tomatoes
3 cups Chicken Stock
1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
1 large pinch Saffron
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper 
1/4 cup Parsley plus additional parsley for garnishing
1 red or green Chile
2 tablespoons Galliano or Pernod (optional)
1 tablespoon Fennel seeds
1/2 pound Fish fillets (tilapia, cod, sea bass)

Peel and cut onion and garlic into thin slices.

Trim fennel and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan.

Add onions and garlic and saute till they are pale brown.

Add fennel and lemon slices and saute for 3-4 minutes.

Pour stock into veggies and bring to a boil. 

Add potatoes to stock.

Simmer soup for 5 minutes.

Blanch fresh tomatoes to remove skin and roughly chop. If you are using canned tomatoes, cut then up into large chunks.

Add tomatoes to fennel along with paprika, saffron, salt and pepper to soup.

Chop parsley and add to soup. 

Cut the stem off the chile and drop it into the soup.

Let soup simmer for another 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Grind fennel seeds to a powder. 

Wash fish and cut into bite size pieces and add to the soup. Or lay fillets on top of simmering soup and let the fish cook in the soup. Fish will cook and flake as the soup simmers. It should take about 5 minutes.

If you are using Pernod or Galliano, add it to soup.

Add fennel powder to soup. Stir well.

Fish the chile and lemon slices out of the broth.

Garnish with some parsley and serve hot.


Make this soup into a seafood broth by adding shrimp and/or clams and mussels. Feel free to improvise. 

You could add raw potatoes to the broth. It will take a tad longer. Add chopped potatoes and cook them before you add lemon slices. 

Mediterranean spices add much needed boldness to the soup. Our taste buds revel in this vibrant broth. A double dose of fennel gives it a zesty tang. This soup is just a warm bowl of winsome charm!  Just right faux me!