Fish Soup

Total Time:
2 hr 30 min
45 min
1 hr 45 min

6 to 8 servings

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds fish bones, such as red snapper, sea bass, or halibut
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 10 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 2 branches fennel, sliced
  • 10 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Large pinch saffron threads
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • Light fish stock, recipe follows, or water to cover (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices French bread (1 per person plus extras)
  • Rouille, recipe follows
  • 3 small lobsters, and/or 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (shells reserved) or fish fillets, or 36 to 48 mussels or clams (enough for 6 to 8 people)
  • Heat a large heavy stockpot and to it add the olive oil. Add the fish bones and cook them over low heat, covered, until any flesh on them flakes from the bones. Add the vegetables and any shells from the shrimp, cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables sweat, about 10 minutes.

  • Deglaze the pot with the wine, scraping up any particles sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the saffron, thyme, and basil.

  • Add the fish stock or water, and let the mixture gently boil for 1 hour. Then puree it in a food processor or pass it through a food mill. Pass the puree through a medium strainer into a clean stockpot. Stir in the Pernod. Season the base, to taste, with salt, pepper and cayenne. The soup should have a full-bodied flavor: If it seems weak, reduce it over low heat to concentrate the flavor.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Skim any fish oil from the top of the soup and reserve it to stir into the rouille.

  • Toast the croutons in the oven until golden, and then brush with rouille.

  • Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shellfish and/or uncooked fish fillets to the soup, 1 variety at a time. Cook each until done; then remove from the soup and keep warm. (The lobsters will take about 10 minutes and their shells will be bright red when done; medium shrimp will take 3 or 4 minutes to cook; fish fillets from 1 to 7 minutes, depending on their thickness (they should remain slightly underdone); and the mussels and clams only cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until their shells open).

  • Presentation: Place 1 crouton in the bottom of each large, shallow, heated soup plates. Then arrange the fish and/or shellfish around each crouton. Ladle the hot soup over all. Serve immediately. Pass additional rouille in a separate serving bowl.

Fish Stock:
  • 2 pounds fish skeletons, cut into pieces*

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or other flavorless oil

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced

  • 1/2 onion, sliced

  • 1 small stalk celery, sliced

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 1 bouquet garni (sprigs of parsley and thyme, peppercorns, and a bay leaf tied in cheesecloth)

  • 1 quart water, approximately

  • *Cook's Note: Use the skeletons of saltwater fish such as sole, John Dory, turbot, halibut or other very fresh non-oily fish for stock.

  • Clean the fish bones under cold running water, removing the gills from the head and any traces of blood on the frames.

  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil. In it sweat the fish bones and vegetables over low heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent them from browning.

  • Deglaze the pan with the wine, and then add enough water to cover the bones and vegetables by 2 inches. Add the bouquet garni and bring the liquid to a boil. Skim the froth from the surface, reduce the heat, and simmer the stock for 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Strain the stock into a clean saucepan. Bring it to a boil and reduce it over medium heat to 1 quart.

  • Note: Fish stock will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or frozen for 2 to 3 weeks. After that time the flavor begins to fade.

  • Yield: 1 quart

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes

  • Cook Time: 35 minutes

  • In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, garlic, mustard, and chili flakes. Whisk in the oil in a very slow steady stream until the sauce begins to emulsify. Add the remaining oil in a thin stream until all of it is incorporated. Add the saffron. Thin the sauce with the stock and season, to taste, with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.


  • Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes

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