Spicy Fish Soup with Rouille | TMix+
Mains

Spicy Fish Soup with Rouille

Time: 20 minutes prep; 70 minutes in the Thermomix
Yield: 6

In the rich repertoire of French soups, few inspire the level of passion roused by bouillabaisse. From Marseilles to Toulon, on the Provencal coast of France, cooks and diners disagree over the details: should one include potatoes? Orange peel? Pastis liqueur? All of the above? One thing that is never in dispute is that the seafood must come from the Mediterranean. 

From a purist’s point of view, then, it is simply not possible to make a bouillabaisse anywhere else—but so long as you have access to good seafood you can make a fabulous spicy fish soup with all the trimmings, including a generous bowl of saffron-spiked, rust-coloured mayonnaise (rouille) for smearing on croutons or crusty bread.

You may call it whatever you like. We’ve steered clear of the “B” word and chosen to call it a soup but be aware that it’s the kind of action-packed soup that you could easily regard as a stew. 

Yolaine Corbin says this recipe, which was inspired by New Zealand-born, French-trained Justin North (formerly of the now defunct Becasse restaurant empire in Sydney), will easily feed six as a main.

This is a special-occasion dish by anyone’s standards so it is worth buying the best seafood you can find and afford. We’ve opted for prawns, mussels, scallops and two kinds of white-fleshed fish—snapper and red mullet.

Making the effort to create your own fish stock is a must: the broth, perfumed with anise notes from the fennel, basil and pastis, is as important as the chunks of fish and shellfish. You really can’t buy anything of the same standard pre-made, so it’s a blessing that the Thermomix makes it easy.

The rouille is another DIY must. It’s so popular in the South of France that it’s stocked by supermarkets but for anyone with a Thermomix, it is the delicious work of mere seconds. 

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Spicy Fish Soup with Rouille
Spicy Fish Soup
12 large prawns, peeled (keep shells and heads for the stock) and deveined
1 small fennel bulb cut into pieces
1 carrot, cut into 2-centimetre chunks
½ celery stick, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
500 grams fish bones, broken into large pieces
1100 grams water
2 star anise
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 small strips orange rind
sea salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and cut into halves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 ripe tomatoes
2 sprigs basil, leaves only
1 tablespoon tomato paste
100 grams dry white wine
80 grams Pernod/pastis or 1 teaspoon aniseeds
50 grams brandy
pinches of saffron threads (generous)
300 grams waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-centimetre slices
12 large mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
6 (about 300 grams) red mullet fillets
2 (about 400 grams) snapper fillets, each cut in halves lengthways to obtain 4 pieces
12 large scallops
Rouille
red capsicum, seeded, grilled and skin removed
½ teaspoon chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs
pinches of saffron threads moistened in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon sea salt
75 grams extra virgin olive oil
75 grams grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of the spicy fish stock (optional)
Method
  1. Place the prawn heads and shells, fennel, carrot, and celery in the bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute 5 minutes/Varoma/Reverse/speed 2. Add fish bones, 1.1 kilograms water, star anise, coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, orange rind, and 1 teaspoon sea salt and simmer 25 minutes/95 degrees/Reverse/speed soft. Strain through a fine sieve. Discard shells, bones and vegetables. Reserve the fish stock for later.
  2. For the rouille, place the capsicum, chilli flakes (or cayenne) and garlic in the bowl and mince 3 seconds/speed 7. Scrape the sides and repeat this step twice. Add the breadcrumbs and mix 5 seconds/speed 6. Add the saffron in lemon juice, mustard, egg yolk and salt and blend 10 seconds/speed 5. Set the timer for 3 minutes/speed 4 and slowly drizzle oils through the hole of the mixing bowl to emulsify. If you find the rouille too thick, thin it down using the 2 tablespoons of fish stock for 30 seconds/speed 4. Set aside in the fridge.
  3. In a clean and dried bowl, mince the onion and garlic 3 seconds/speed 5. Scrape the sides and mince again 3 seconds/speed 7. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute 5 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1 with no MC.
  4. Add tomatoes, basil, and tomato paste and chop 6 seconds/speed 6; then add white wine, Pernod or pastis (or aniseeds) and brandy and cook 3 minutes/100 degrees/speed 2 with no MC.
  5. Return the previously made fish stock with saffron threads to the bowl, and bring to the boil 5 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  6. Insert the simmering basket in the bowl and add the sliced potatoes.
  7. Place the mussels in the Varoma basket; then lay the fish fillets on the Varoma tray (if they don’t all fit, you may need to do it in 2 batches; the broth will be fine with the extra cooking but you will need to check the potatoes as they will most likely be ready after the first batch is done), season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Insert the Varoma in place on the mixing bowl lid and steam 15 minutes/Varoma/speed 2.
  8. Check that the mussels and fish are cooked through, if not, increase cooking time by a few minutes; then arrange them in a serving dish and cover to keep warm. Check potatoes. If cooked through, set aside with mussels and fish.
  9. Now place the prawns into the Varoma basket and the scallops onto the Varoma tray and gently steam them 5 minutes/Varoma/speed 2 — before adding them to the mussels and fish dish.
  10. If you still have potatoes cooking, check that they are cooked through (if not, cook for a few extra minutes at 100 degrees).
  11. Blend the liquid in the bowl for 1 minute/speed 9 (increasing the speed gradually) and strain, using a sieve, over the seafood and potatoes.
  12. Serve with garlic croutons or crusty bread and rouille.

AND … Frozen prawns are fine. They are flash-frozen on the boats that catch them so are often “fresher” than ones found in supermarkets (which will usually have been frozen, anyway, prior to being thawed for sale). Look for Australian prawns ahead of the ones imported from farms in south-east Asia. Scallops also survive the freezing process well and are fine bought frozen if you can’t find good ones fresh. Australian scallops or quality Canadian imports are both good.

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