Dorset Fish Soup – by Tim Maddams

Dorset fish soup with spicy rouille and croutons

The ideal dish for your 500g “Fish Soup bits” pack.

This super simple, spicy soup is like a turbo charged Bouillabaisse, the more delicate saffron and  fish soup beloved of the Cóte d’Azur.

This more punchy, more robust version is a little less refined, but more than makes up for it by paying you back in a fad deeper complexity of flavour. You can play very fast and loose with the ingredients, using whatever fish pieces and bones, trimming and shells you have to hand.

Serves 3 – 4 as a hearty lunch

For the stock:

Note : You do not need to make your very own stock here, a supermarket version will do or even a powdered one at a real push, but it will be worth dressing it up a bit, taste it, add a little more garlic, chilli, a few prawn shells perhaps, a little bit of tomato puree, and give it a simmer for a few minutes, no one will ever know!

  • 300g flat fish bones
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of  good quality tinned tomatoes
  • a little olive oil
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • A glug of white wine
  • Water
  1. Begin by frying the fish bones in olive oil in a large enough pan to hold the bones and other ingredients. As they begin to change colour add the veg and spices and cook to intensify for around 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Add the wine and allow to cook out – 2 mins.
  • Add enough water to just cover the bones – simmer for around 1 hour before leaving to cool on the bones.
  • Pass off the fluid and reserve.

For croutons:

  • A few thin slices of baguette olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. Sprinkle the bread slices with olive oil, salt and pepper – place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden brown.

For the rouille:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon harissa paste
  • 2 anchovies
  • juice of half a lemon
  • enough olive oil to make into a thick, mayonnaise type emulsion.
  1. Place all the ingredients bar the oil in a blender and switch it on. Drizzle in the olive oil until a thick emulsion is formed. Correct the seasoning.

To finish the soup

  • 500g fish pieces
  • a little flour
  • A little finely grated hard cheese
  • A pinch or two of chopped parsley.
  • Light olive oil
  1. Place a good frying pan on the stove that you can trust. Season the fish pieces and dust with flour (except shell fish) add a little light oil to the pan and begin to cook the fish skin side down.

  2. Once the fish is half cooked, add enough stock to just cover the fish and add any shell fish. Simmer rapidly for a minute or two or until the shell fish open if you are using any. You may need to cook your fish in batches and add the first batch or two back in once the stock is in and simmering…)
  • Turn the heat right down and add a desert spoonful of rouille. Swirl the pan to mix everything together nicely.
  • Pour or ladle the soup into a bowl, add croutons, then cheese and finally more rouille and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

West Country Mussels, Cider, Bacon, Spring Onions and Cream

There is very little need to write a recipe for this kind of dish, it is naturally intuitive and just a simple, locally seasoned version of the classic “Moulés Mariniere” that is so popular. Here we exchange the white wine for dry cider (Very Dorset – and quite Brittany….) add some tasty local bacon and organic spring onions, seal the deal with a little super rich double cream and we are in feast fit for a king territory, the nuts and bolts of how to put this dish together are below, but make it your own and use this advice as a starting point and a guideline only.

The very best mussels are key to this dish, make sure they are well cleaned of their beards and any sand by giving them a good wash in cold fresh water – but do not leave them submerged for long periods of time; you want them to keep their salty sea water, not drown in fresh water. The beards can simply be pulled from the mussel shell, don’t be over fussy about it though, life, is far too short.

Serves 4

1kg good quality mussels

50g good smoked bacon

100ml double cream

2 lovely fresh spring onions

2 cloves of garlic

250ml good dry cider

A good sprig of fresh thyme

A pinch of chilli flakes (Optional)

25g butter

Set the mussels free of whatever container they are in and place them in a bowl under a running tap – rinse in cold clean water, stirring occasionally for a minute or two, drain well, and place in the fridge with a damp cloth over them until required. Discard any Mussels that are open and fail to react when tapped on the work top, remove any obvious “beards” by simply pulling them out.

Place a large casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid on the stove over a moderate to strong heat, remove the lid and add the butter.

Slice your spring onions and garlic, keep the spring onion greens separate from the whites as these go in the pot later. Add the diced bacon, sliced garlic, sliced spring onion whites and the thyme to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Turn up the heat and add the muscles, add the cider and put the lid on the pan.

After two minutes on a high heat, remove the lid and add the cream – hopefully most of the mussels are open but if not pop the lid back on for another minute or two. We want the mussels cooked, but we do not want them over cooked BUT we REALLY,  really do not want them under cooked either, so stir them about and be sure the majority are nicely cooked before adding the onion greens and (if you want) a few chilli flakes or some black pepper. Allow the mussels to rest for a few minutes in the pan with the heat turned off but the lid on. Stove in bowls with either plenty of good bread to hand or a large bowl of chips!