Provencal Seafood Soup with Red Pepper Sauce
A hearty meal-in-a-bowl soup is the perfect antidote to a chilly winter evening. This classic soup from the south of France may seem complicated, but it is actually very simple to make. Although there are some aromatic ingredients to chop, many of the ingredients are basic pantry seasonings. You will be rewarded with a meal that is low in calories and saturated fat, but rich in flavor—a delicious way to include more fish in your diet (The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommends eating 2 servings of fish per week.) A simple sauce made from pureed roasted red peppers, seasoned with a little garlic, chile pepper and olive oil, gives the soup a remarkable depth of flavor.
To make Red Pepper Sauce: Place 2 slices baguette in food processor or blender; process until coarse crumbs form. Add roasted pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper; process until pureed, stopping several times to scrape down sides of workbowl. With motor running, gradually add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Transfer to bowl. (Sauce will keep, covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
To make soup: Heat 1 Tbsp oil in Dutch oven or soup pot (4-to-6-qt capacity) over medium heat. Add onion, leek, and fennel; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 to 20 seconds. Add wine; cook 1 minute. Add fish stock, tomatoes, orange zest, thyme, saffron (or paprika), and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat-low 20 minutes.
Add seafood. Cover and simmer gently just until fish flesh is opaque and any shrimp turn pink, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
To serve, place a slice a toasted baguette in each soup bowl. Ladle in soup and sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Top each serving with a spoonful of Red Pepper Sauce.
Yield: 6 (generous 1-cup) servings.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup leek, white and pale green parts only, thoroughly cleaned, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 3/4 cup clam juice
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 15 ounce no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads crumbled
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 1/2 pound assorted seafood: moderately firm white-fleshed fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, striped bass, and/or mahi mahi, skin removed, if necessary (ask the fish counter to do this), cut into 1-inch pieces, and/or shellfish, such as small (51/60 count) shrimp, peeled and/or sea scallops, halved
- 6 medium slices baguette, preferably whole-wheat, toasted
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)