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Fish (and chorizo) soup

This soup has become a classic at River Cottage. We make it with all sorts of fish, from black bream to pouting. Many things can be added but the three basic ingredients are always the same: fillets of very fresh fish, sometimes lightly salted, roast tomato sauce and fish stock.

Method

First make the tomato sauce. Arrange the tomato halves in an ovenproof dish so they sit snugly side by side, rather than on top of each other. Mix the garlic and oil together and trickle them over the tomatoes. Season lightly, then roast in an oven preheated to 180 C/Gas Mark 4 for 35–45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft, pulpy and slightly browned. Rub them through a sieve, discarding the pips and skin, and set aside.

Put the chorizo (if using) in a large, heavy saucepan and fry over a medium heat until lightly coloured. Otherwise heat a little olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic, onions, celery and fennel seeds. If using potatoes, add them at this stage. Fry gently for 10 minutes, to soften the vegetables without browning them, then pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Add 250ml of the tomato sauce (you might have a little more than this, but any extra will keep well in the fridge) and the stock, plus the chickpeas if you are using them, then bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, skin the fish fillets and remove any pin bones by slicing down either side of the bone line. Cut the fish into fairly large chunks – small pouting or whiting fillets can be used whole.

When the tomato soup base has had its 20 minutes, add the fish, together with the squid or cuttlefish and scallops if using. Cook briefly in the gently simmering soup for 2–3 minutes, adding any mussels and shredded greens after a minute.

Season the soup with pepper, adding salt only if necessary (with chorizo, you really shouldn't need it). Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with chopped parsley if you like, and serve with crusty bread.

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Ingredients

  • 4 small, hot chorizo sausages, about 250g in total, sliced on the diagonal (optional), or a little olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • A pinch of fennel seeds
  • 200ml white wine
  • 500ml fish or shellfish stock
  • 500g lightly salted white fish fillets, such as pouting, whiting or pollack, or unsalted bream or sea bass
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)

For the roasted tomato sauce:

  • 1kg ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes, halved
  • 2-–3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Optional ‘bulking’ extras:

  • Up to 750g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky cubes
  • Up to 500g pre-cooked or tinned (rinsed) chickpeas
  • Up to 250g spinach, Swiss chard or other greens, finely shredded

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Fish

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