Archive for October 23rd, 2011

A couple of months ago, fellow food blogger Charles blogged about a Bouillabaisse recipe and that inspired me to want to make one of my own. It’s finally getting chilly here in Toronto so it’s definitely soup weather!

In 2008 we were fortunate enough to travel with our dear friends Paul and T to Europe. We traveled for 15 days from Vienna to Budapest (I have family there) to Venice to Provence and finally to Paris. We ate, drank and lived like kings and queen’s and had an amazing time. In Marseille I ate the most wonderful fish soup and through Charles’ inspiration, I shall try to recreate my version of this famous Provençal Soup.

Paul, Eva and Theresa sitting on a ledge at Notre-Dame de la Garde

View from Notre-Dame de la Garde

On Charles’ blog post I mentioned that I have a secret ingredient. Are you ready? I keep a zip lock bag in my freezer. Wow! Crazy isn’t it? Every time I make shrimp and clean the shells/tails from them (raw), I drop them into this baggy instead of tossing them in the compost bin. Over the summer, I have accumulated quite a lot. Also, if we have lobster or crab which we did, I always save the shells and drop them into this baggy. This is going to be my flavour base.

The secret ingredient

Because I wanted to keep relatively true to the origin of the soup, I based my recipe on Epicurious because it read like the one I had in Marseille, although I have altered it to our taste. The recipe makes 8 servings, so I will cool and freeze 6 servings for future use. The fresh seafood will be for 2 servings and I will deal with it in the final cooking and assembly stage.

Everybody in the pot!


  • 250g or 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, reserving fronds for garnish, and bulb chopped
  • 200g or 1medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 500g or 1 celery root, peeled and cubed (I have used this instead of celery as I don’t want to thicken the soup with a roux, I’ll thicken it with vegetables instead).
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 California or 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 500g or 1 large ziplock bag of shrimp tails, lobster shells and such
  • 1 cup of raw shrimp
  • 2 cans chopped stewed tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 4L water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup kettle, put two tables spoons of EVOO and heat gently. Add leeks, fennel, carrot, celery root, garlic, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, cayenne, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon pepper cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water and the bag of shrimp tails, lobsters shells and such. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours (the broth should have a lovely seafood flavour and aroma).
  3. Force this mixture (yes, even the shrimp tails and lobster shells) through a food mill. You will not believe the flavour you will get from the seafood dregs!
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, wine and orange zest and bring back up to a boil for a minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bout 15 minutes. Now press this through a fine sieve to make it a creamy silken soup (although the authentic soup does have some bits and chunks in it)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Set aside to cool and portion into plastic containers for freezing.

Ingredients for serving for two:

  • 2 portions of the previously made soup
  • 6 raw large shrimp
  • 300g of sturdy white fish, such as Haddock, or Hallibut
  • any other seafood you wish to add


  1. On the day that you wish to serve this soup, defrost the portions you need, and reheat to a slow boil. Add the fish and shrimp and cook through.
  2. Serve immediately with crostini and saffron aioli.

Provençal Fish Soup

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