Provencal Seafood Bisque
The soup is particularly good served with crusty French or Italian loaf bread for dipping.
- 3 slices of bacon, roughly chopped (can substitute olive oil or butter, 3 Tbsp)
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 pound white fish fillets, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon of orange zest
- A pinch of cayenne
- A large pinch of saffron
- 1 quart of shellfish stock, OR 16 ounces of clam juice plus 16 ounces of fish stock or water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Salt to taste
Cook the bacon on medium heat in a 6 to 8 quart pot until it is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon. Set aside on a paper towel to use for garnish later.
Increase the heat to medium high and add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Sprinkle some salt over everything as it cooks.
Add the fish, tomatoes and the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the orange zest, cayenne and saffron, then pour in the shellfish stock or whatever stock you are using. In a pinch you could even use chicken or vegetable stock, but the flavor of the soup will be different. Simmer this gently – do not let it get to a rolling boil – for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Get another pot ready. Fill a blender a third of the way with the soup and blend it on high (starting on low then increasing to high) for 1 minute, or until it is well puréed. Work in batches to purée the rest of the soup. Pour the puréed soup into the clean pot.
Put the soup on medium-low heat and add the cream. Stir well and taste for salt, adding if needed. Do not let this boil! Or it might break.
Serve garnished with bacon bits or dill fronds, and alongside some crusty bread. A dry rose or light red wine would go well with this; I’d suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.