Fish soup with saffron and wine – a taste of the Côte d’Azur

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Fish soup with saffron and wine - a taste of the Côte d’Azur
Fish soup with saffron and wine – a taste of the Côte d’Azur

An easy, delicious soup with a large grouper, influenced by the home of bouillabaisse. Fish soup with saffron and white wine, aroma and pure brushstrokes of Southern France, packed with memories that traveled in the magical Aegean islands.

The saffron fish soup is a classic, simple version influenced by the cosmopolitan Côte d’Azur. In May 1991, I found myself at a lovely fishing village, Cassis, a few kilometres outside Marseilles. It’s a place famous for its bouillabaisse (apparently the authentic recipe). I remember that one of the things that most struck me was that the fish soup contained saffron. That memory remained dormant for two decades, until a few years ago, having mastered the traditional fish soup, I decided to make it more unexpected, while still allowing the true flavour of the fish to come through.

Slice of fish, large grouper-likeThe recipe has made a long journey. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
In my opinion, the best fish for soup are, in order, Wreckfish (Vlachos in Greek – the big grouper-like fish which lives in the deep), Dusky grouper (Rofos in Greek), Goldblotch grouper (Stira in Greek), Mottled grouper (Piga in Greek) and White grouper (Sfirida in Greek). This fish soup with saffron and wine is made with Wreckfish which luckily I found sold in slices, but it can be made with any fish suitable for soup.

Fish soup with saffron and wine

Preparation: 45-50 minutes approx. – total time. If you don’t have a fish kettle with a separate base, you can make the soup in a pasta pot so that the vegetables can be strained and the fish stays in the soup.

Ingredients (for 6 people – as a starter)
1 kilo grouper fish in slices (from a large grouper)
8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
2 medium white onions, halved
4 carrots, peeled
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
50 ml white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – preferably Greek
1 good pinch saffron
5-7 black peppercorns
5 litres water

Fish Soup with a big grouper and veggiesTo prepare the saffron fish soup: Boil the vegetables in the salted water for 20 minutes. Remove them and set them aside.
Put the fish in the water and boil for 15 minutes.

Fish Soup with a big grouper and saffronFish Soup with a big grouper slicesIn the last 5 minutes, add the lemon juice, wine and saffron. Remove the fish.

Fish Soup with saffron and winePut the boiled potatoes, one of the onions, half the celery and one carrot back into the soup. Blend in the pot with a hand blender.
Note: Keep 4 litres of the fish stock for the soup. Pour the rest into an ice cube tray in order to have fish stock for another time.

Serving: Pour the saffron fish soup into warmed bowls and place a piece of fish in the centre of each bowl.
Note: If you want to make a traditional fish soup, simply omit the wine and saffron. Apart from that, everything is the same….

Translated by Sophie Athanasiadis
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