1/4 C. olive oil

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

3 onions, roughly chopped

2 carrots, scraped, roughly chopped

1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Peel of 1/4 orange

2 bay leaves

Salt, freshly ground pepper

2 lbs. bone-in marine fish such as sole ( left whole or cut into chunks) and whole fresh sardines

1 C. dry white wine or vermouth

3 T. tomato paste

2 t. saffron threads

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3 lbs. mixed white fish, fillets and/or whole small fish

10 small yellow potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick

6 T. olive oil

1 lb. shellfish, such as shrimp, mussels, clams, lobster and/or crab

1 egg yolk, see note

1 small boiled potato

1/2 t. saffron threads, soaked in 1 T. hot water

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 C. olive oil


1. For the soup, heat olive oil in a large, shallow pot or casserole that will hold whole fish. Add the celery, onions, carrots, fennel, garlic, orange peel and bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the marine fish; cook 5-7 minutes. Add the wine, liqueur and tomato paste; cook over high heat until alcohol evaporates, 2 minutes. Add cold water to cover (8-10 cups), the saffron and thyme; heat to a simmer. Cover; cook over low heat 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Strain fish and vegetables out of the broth; place them in a food processor, removing the bay leaves. Pulse until chopped fine but not pasty. Strain through a sieve, pressing hard for maximum extraction, or put through a food mill. Discard remaining solids. Stir strained mixture back into the broth. (May be chilled overnight at this point, if desired). Heat to a rolling boil.

3. Add the thickest pieces of the white fish, the sliced potatoes, and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Return to a boil; cook 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining fish. Heat to a simmer. Add shellfish; heat to a boil. Cook just until the clams and mussels open and the fish is done, 5-7 minutes. Transfer fish to a large platter. Cover with foil.

4. Meanwhile, for the rouille, put the egg yolk, potato, saffron and garlic in a food processor. Puree ingredients; slowly add the olive oil, adding a teaspoon or 2 of warm water if necessary for a thinner consistency. The finished rouille should be like a thick mayonnaise. Season with salt.

5. Ladle the soup into wide, shallow bowls. Place the platter of fish in the middle of the table. Lift the fillets of fish off the bone. Pass the rouille and Parmesan at the table.

Yield: 10 servings.


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