Friday, February 27, 2015

FFWD ~ Riviera Fish Soup

FFWD ~ Riviera Fish Soup

This week, French Fridays is taking the chill off the frigid winter that has hit the US.  Our pick was for a luscious fish soup…Riviera Fish Soup to be exact! When I read this recipe through, honestly I wasn’t thrilled. A pureed fish soup! Really? When will I learn to trust Dorie?

Last week we drove to Atlanta to visit my son’s family. We picked a week in between snowstorms to head south. The whole east coast has been hammered with bitter cold weather and snow. Trying to co-ordinate our trip was a bit tricky. We spent a few lovely days visiting with my grandsons, son and daughter-in-law. Then we headed to Florida. The first morning I woke with a stomach bug!  Frankly, I never thought I’d be blogging with French Fridays this week. Thank goodness it was short lived!

A luscious soup to keep you warm this week

Back to the soup! Dorie calls for a whole red snapper, including the head! Just in case you haven’t read how squeamish I am about fish…that was not going to happen! To tell the truth, I couldn’t even find a whole fish. The only red snapper that was available were filets in the frozen section of the seafood department. Although my soup didn’t get the benefit of the whole fish (head and bones), it was incredibly flavorful!
This soup was pretty straightforward. Sautéing all of your aromatics until softened, adding the fish and cooking a bit longer. At this point the tomatoes, tomato paste and saffron are added, cooked a bit longer, then add the liquids, bouquet garni and pastis.  Cover and cook for about 40 minutes. Sounds easy…and it was!

I know I will be making this again and again…a winner for sure!
One of the additions I was skeptical about was the Ricard (anise flavored liquor). I adore licorice-anise flavor, and grew up in a family where
Arak was served readily in my grandparents home. The drink’s derivatives include Raki in Turkey, Ouzo in Greece, Pastis in France and Sambuca in Italy.
But in soup? I proceeded cautiously, and was surprised at how subtle the flavor was. In the end, I served some at the table to be added to the soup.
The soup was not what I expected, but turned out to be a truly fabulous dish that I will now be adding to my repertoire. Who knows, maybe even a whole fish will find it’s way into my kitchen!  In the end, this beautiful red pureed soup was thick, warming and delicious! Bill and I both loved it! Would you believe that Bill suggested we buy some crabmeat to place on top of our bowls of soup for dinner tonight…I love that idea! Happy Friday everyone! 

This recipe is from “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan. To see what the other Doristas thought of this Riviera Fish Soup check it out here.
Sautéing aromatics 
Just before the liquid was added…the aroma heavenly!
Although I would rather be eating this in the south of France…Florida is a pretty good place to be!
The view at 6am, from my comfy chair in the living room

Riviera Fish Soup  
adapted from Dorie Greenspan “Around My French Table"

1 whole red snapper, about 2 lbs  (I used frozen red snapper fillets…no bones or mess)
3-4 tbsp olive oil 
2 medium onions, chopped 
2 carrots, chopped 
4 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, crushed 
1 small fennel bulb, chopped 
28 oz canned plum tomatoes 
¼ cup tomato paste 
3 pinches saffron threads 
3 tbsp Pastis ( I used Ricard) 
1 wide strip of orange zest with pith removed 
bouquet garni: 
2 parsley springs
2 thyme leaves
1 bay leaf   
tie together or wrap in cheesecloth 
salt and pepper 
Piment d’Espelette or cayenne


1. In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the onion, carrots, garlic and fennel. Cook slowly, stirring once or twice for about 10 minutes until softened.
2. Add fish chunks, and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes, if mixture looks dry add the other tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Drain and save the liquid from the tomatoes in a measuring cup. Set aside. Use scissors or a knife to cut the tomatoes (I squeezed them in my hand, to break them up). Then add them to the pot, along with the tomato paste and saffron. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. 
4. Add enough liquid to the reserved tomato liquid to make 6 cups of water, and add to the pot; stir. 
6. Add a tablespoon of the pastis, bouquet garni, salt and pepper, and piment d’espelette or cayenne. 
7. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cook uncovered for about 40 minutes. 
8. Very carefully add the soup to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree. (Make sure you Don’t put the lid on tight if the soup is hot…it could explode. I left the center cap off the lid of my blender and just held it in place.) If you use a whole fish with bones, remove the head and bouquet garni before you process.  As you puree the soup add to a clean pot. Reheat and serve.
 9. When serving, stir an additional tablespoon of pastis into each bowl. Serve with toasted bread, that was brushed with olive oil and rubbed with a garlic clove.  I also served mine with some Aioli, as Dorie suggested.


  1. You were wish to go with out bones. I was guessing that you also grew up with an anise flavored drink too. I loved the taste in the soup too...yes, we are still bitter cold here in the North. Glad you are warm.

    1. Just a little warmer Diane! It was in the thirties this morning here in Florida!

  2. Do you have a spare room??? LOL---I'm SO ready for spring! I loved this one, too, but working with a whole fish was a pain. I think you lucked out :)

    1. We actually do, Liz, and you are most certainly welcome!

  3. Dear Kathy, What a beautiful view!!!
    I don't know if I would want the whole fish, head and all to cook with either. So glad you enjoyed the soup and the crab meat suggestion sounds real good.
    Happy to hear that the bug was short lived.
    xoxo Catherine

  4. I had some pureed cod fish soup last week and it was very delicious, but not as fancy as yours.
    Have a great weekend, Kathy!

  5. I'd be squeamish about using a head too! But the soup looks marvelous--as does Florida. Almost as good as the south of France...

  6. So glad that you and Bill are getting some time in the sunshine. Soak it up and get rid of those Bugs! I think Bill is right. A little crab on the top would only add more flavor. Glad you both liked this, Kathy. You and Diane know oh so much more about anise flavored liquor than I do.

  7. Hello Kathy, this sounds yummy and elegant, I feel bad to sacrifice blending the fish, but as you said we have to trust Dorie. I bookmarked the recipe I like to try it I have cods in the freezer.
    Glad you are much better now... just for information next time you have this symptoms soak a white towel with rubbing alcohol and put it on your stomach, you will feel much better in 30 minutes(a Lebanese remedy maybe your mom knows about)

  8. I'm jealous of that view as I sit here are look out at fields of snow. At least the sun is shining. Your version of the soup looks delicious. I'm thinking that the texture was different than mine because you had no heads or other bones to contend with. Bill's suggestion to put crab on top was a stroke of brilliance. Keep him around! I'm glad you are feeling better. Being sick, especially away from home is never fun. Enjoy Florida!

  9. First let me say enjoy the "warmer" weather. Secondly, I hope you feel better, this must have been the year of the flu cause I know more people that got sick. I am glad you enjoyed this recipe, it was good, but don't know if I would do a repeat. Enjoy you time in Florida, can't wait for Spring.

  10. I too was pleasantly surprised by this dish. I thought it was pretty special! Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. That colour is so gorgeous, I can see why the soup was so good :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Dear hope you feel better!!
    Love a fish soup ! I was thinking in make soups because the nights are more cold (we are close of autumn) and this look delicious!
    Love your view:)
    Take care!

  13. I think the fact that you only found fillets was a blessing. I didn't read the whole recipe until after I'd bought a whole fish - and boy, was it fun chopping off the head and descaling it, then filleting it. Glad you enjoyed the soup - it's a lovely colour.

  14. First, love that morning shot of the sea- so beautiful and peaceful. Second, so glad you two enjoyed the fish soup. I am very impressed that Bill thought up the crab addition- it sounds absolutely delicious !! I think my sons would have enjoyed this one, given how much they love fish, but having me responsible for 50% of the taste testing and not a fish fan...well, it gave the whole adventure an uphill chance at best. Good think it involved that anise flavoring liquor ~

  15. This is very similar to a soup I have made for years, minus the fish. But I can really see the fish working in this preparation. I love the flavor of the pastis in it, too. Brava, Kathy! It looks beautiful.

  16. Wow great view! You seem to be one of the few that really liked this dish. I am glad it worked out well for you. It is a pretty looking soup. I was happy with my fish make-up.

  17. My! the soup does look delicious. Great job:)

  18. Love your soup, Kathy and that view isn't bad either! :-)

  19. How lovely is this! Perfect for warming up on cold days.

  20. This looks so lovely... I like this soup. Look at that view.. amazing.