16 February 2011
This is very easy and produces much pleasure among supper guests. Peel or scrape and slice finely, onion, potato, carrot, celery, garlic, put into a heavy lidded casserole with a little olive oil. Sweat thoroughly with the lid on over a low flame. Then add fish or vegetable stock to cover, with a good pinch of saffron, which you have prepared by putting it into an eggcup and pouring over a little boiling water. Squash it with the back of a tsp to extract flavour, and add the whole lot to the stock. Season with salt and fresh ground white pepper if you have it. Simmer until all is soft. This should be pretty quick if you have sliced the vegetables finely. Have prepared a selection of small chunks of white fish fillets, or any other fish you have to hand. Prepare a rouille at this point if you like. Smash a couple of garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar with a red chilli from which you have extracted the seeds. Season with salt. Add an egg yolk or two. Then drip in olive oil until you have a glossy, hot and garlicky mixture. People will only need about a tsp each, so you don't need to go on pounding away for too long. For large quantities you can use the food processor. Taste your soup, and add a little more seasoning if you think it necessary. At the last minute, slip in pieces of white fish. Turn off the heat and allow the fish to become opaque in the hot broth. Serve on broad plates with toasted sourdough and rouille, plus plenty of finely chopped parsley.