Mediterranean Fish Soup with Rouille croutons

 This is a wonderful recipe from Jacques Pepin for a      party as you can make the base the day of the party and finish it by cooking the fish at the last minute. I steam the mussels separately in white wine to make sure they all open and would do the same with clams if I used them. I used halibut that I skinned and cut into 3/4′ pieces and bay scallops. Yield about 3 quarts-serves 6

1 1/2# fish fillets, a mixture of 2 or 3 kinds of fish or all one kind-halibut, cod, haddock,monkfish,seabass or snapper, any firm white fish, skinned, cut into pieces

1 1/2# clams or mussels, scrubbed and  cleaned

1/2# scallops

3 T olive oil

1 1/2 cups onions,chopped

5 scallions, thinly sliced, about 1 cup

1 T. garlic, chopped

2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, with skin, juice and sees

1 cup white wine like Chardonnay

4 cups fish stock (you can make, buy or substitute clam juice,diluted with water)

1 t. fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 t. saffron threads, or less if you wish

1 1/2 T fresh tarragon, if available

Rouille

1 slice firm white bread, crusts removed

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup potato (helps for a great consistency but not absolutely necessary)

1/4 cup canned pimiento pieces (essential to recipe)

1/4 cup broth from the soup pot

1 egg yolk

fresh salt and pepper to taste

1/8 t. cayenne

3/4 cup olive oil

Croutons

24 slices of baguette, about 1/4″ cut on the diagonal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and toast croutons on a baking sheet until crisp and beginning to color on both sides, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large soup pan, heat up the olive oil and saute the onions, scallions and garlic. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, and fish stock and stir in thyme and s&p. Bring to a boil and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, partially covered. You can hold this base for a day or two and finish at the last minute!

For the rouille, tear the bread into pieces and put into processor with the garlic cloves. Process until finely chopped. Add the cooked potato, pimiento, and 1/4 cup broth from the soup pot and process until smooth. Add egg yolk, s&p, and cayenne and process. Add olive oil slowly with machine running. Taste and adjust. Put into a bowl.

To finish-

I cook mussels or clams separately in white wine until opened to make sure there is no grit and all shellfish opens.

With soup base at a boil, add saffron and cook 2 minutes. Add fish and scallops and return to a gentle boil for 2-3 minutes. Add mussels or clams and stir in chopped tarragon.

Spoon rouille over half of the croutons and ladle portions of the seafood and broth into large soup bowls. Garnish with rouille croutons. Serve hot with extra croutons and rouille on the side.

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