Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse, the perennial favorite, wears several hats, all quite becoming. My version of Moroccan Fish Soup omits the verboten shellfish, and has very pleasing Moroccan overtones (this Moroccan can’t help it!)
Some Seder guest recently created quite a stir at my (kosher) table when she declared after tasted this soup: “I can finally have fish soup. I could never taste it because I have an allergy to lobster. I see what I have been missing!” Incidentally, many people are staying clear of shellfish, so they can have this soup anytime. And no, it’s not the shellfish that makes it delicious: It’s the whole wonderful and simple preparation.
Although this soup is included in my first cookbook, Lévana’s Table, I just didn’t have the heart to leave it out. You can easily make a whole meal out of it. Oh, I know you will be told there’s no good fish soup unless you include all that shellfish, but wait till you taste this one! It simply has too much going for it to be missing anything. I have no quarrel with mock crab, which is made of all-natural pollock and adds great texture and flavor, which suits kosher diners as well as diners reluctant to use shellfish, just fine.
I eliminate the broth-making step by wrapping the heads and tails of fish loosely in cheesecloth, cooking them with the soup and then discarding them without any mess. Cooking the soup with the heads intensifies its flavor and imparts a light gelatinous texture. This is every bit as interesting as the traditional French version containing shellfish: Besides, the Moroccan version never had any.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced
- 4 ribs celery, peeled
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large bunch flat parsley
- 1 small bunch cilantro, stems cut off
- 2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
- Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
- 4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes (low carb: substitute celery root)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
- Good pinch ground cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 good pinches saffron
- 2 tablespoons anisette or arack, optional (I recommend it!)
- 8 cups fish cubes, about 1” size: salmon, tile, snapper (year round: flaked mock crab) etc....
Heat the oil in a heavy wide bottom pot. In a food processor, grind the first set of ingredients coarsely. Add to the oil, and sauté until the mixture is translucent. Add all but two last ingredients and cook 45 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook another few minutes, just until fish is cooked through. Adjust consistency and seasonings. Serve hot.