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Mixed Fish Soup (Bourride)

This is one of the great dishes of Provence, almost rivalling the bouillabaisse in popularity. It can be made from almost any type of firm-fleshed fish but the important not-to-be-omitted essential of the dish is the aioli. If you want to cheat on making it, add three or four crushed garlic cloves to 300 ml (10 fl oz) (1 1/4 cups) of commercially prepared mayonnaise. Boiled potatoes are also often added to the soup when serving.

ingredients

8 servings
1 1/2 kg (3 lb) Firm white fish fillets (haddock, cod, John Dory, brill, or bass)
Fish heads and trimmings from the fillets
1 1/4litres (2 pints) 5 cups Water
300 ml (10 fl oz) 1 1/4 cups Dry white wine
2 Onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Wine vinegar
7 1/2 cm (3 in) strip Orange peel, blanched
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp Salt
6 - 8 rounds French or Italian bread, toasted

for the aioli

1 Tbs Dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs Wine vinegar
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
6 Egg yolks
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Dry mustard
1/4 tsp White pepper
300 ml (10 fl oz) 1 1/4 cups Olive oil
1 Tbs Lemon juice

method

1. Cut the fish fillets into about 7 1/2 cm (3 in) pieces. Put the trimmings and heads into a large saucepan with all the remaining soup ingredients, except the bread and aioli, and bring to the boil. Half-cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the aioli. Soak the breadcrumbs in vinegar for 5 minutes, then squeeze dry. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and mash in the garlic. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then the salt, mustard and pepper. When the mixture is very thick and smooth, beat in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Do not add the oil too quickly or the mayonnaise will curdle. When the mayonnaise has thickened, the oil may be added a little more rapidly. When all the oil has been added, beat in the lemon juice. Set aside.

3. Strain the fish stock, pressing down on the vegetables with the back of a wooden spoon. Rinse out the pan, then return the fish stock to it. Add the fish and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fish pieces to a warmed serving bowl. Boil the stock rapidly for 10 minutes or until it has reduced a little.

4. Very gradually beat about 125 ml (4 fl oz) (1 cup) of the fish stock into the aioli. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to let it curdle.

5. Arrange the toasted bread rounds on the bottom of individual bowls, and cover with fish pieces. Pour over the aioli stock and serve at once.

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