Provençal Fish Soup with Aioli © TPH & llizard aka ejm 2000,2002

Ingredients serves four
    3 leeks
    1 med onion
    ¼ c olive oil
    3 med carrots
    1 bulb fennel
    8 small new potatoes
    2½ c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
    thyme (optional)
    herbes de Provence (optional)
    fennel seed, ground (optional)
    2 lb cod, red snapper or haddock fillets
¼ c mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 Tbsp fine dry bread crumbs

Herbes de Provence
1 Tbsp dried basil
½ Tbsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp dried chervil
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried summer savory
1 tsp dried lavender
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried mint
½ tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf

Preparation Blend the ingredients together (use your coffee dried herb & spice grinder) Store away from light in sealed jars.
  1. Soup: Trim the leeks to use the firm white part. Cut in half lengthwise. Chop in thin halfmoons (about ¼ inch wide). Put in a tub of water and swish around. The copious amount of dirt on the leeks should fall to the bottom of the tub. (I do this in a salad spinner.) Drain well and shake them dry.

  2. Put a large stock pot on medium high heat. Add a ¼ cup olive oil. Chop the onion. Put the leeks and onions into the hot oil and saute for 1 or 2 minutes til they are not quite translucent.

  3. Peel the carrots and cut in half horizontally and lengthwise. Wash and trim the fennel bulb. Reserve any fennel leaves for garnish. Coarsely chop the fennel bulb into bite size (or larger) pieces. Wash and cut the potatoes in half. Add to the onion/leek mixture and stir around for a few minutes.

  4. Add chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and lightly boil (medium heat) for 10 to 15 minutes - til the vegetables are done to your liking. We like them to be somewhat al dente. Bear in mind that they will continue to cook a little after you take them off the stove.

  5. Season the soup with salt, pepper and ground fennel seed if you aren't getting enough of the wonderful liquorice flavour from the fennel bulb. Add a little thyme or herbes de provence if you like. Take the soup off the stove and let sit until it is almost time to serve.

  6. Aioli: Mix aioli ingredients together well in a small bowl. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to let the flavours meld together.

  7. Serving Time: Just before serving, remove vegetables and set aside. Heat up the stock to almost boil and gently place the fish on top to simmer gently til it flakes (just a few minutes). Be careful; the fish wants to fall apart.

  8. Gently remove the fish and set aside on a plate. Return the vegetables to the stock to reheat. Ladle stock and vegetables into soup bowls. Gently (gently gently!!) place the fish on top of the bowl. Garnish with a dollop (ooooh I wish there were a better word!) of aioli and a frond of fennel.

Serve the soup with rustic French Bread or crusty baguette, more aioli and light red wine that has been slightly chilled.