Recipe: Classic fish soup with home-made garlic croutons

A dollop of home-made rouille and aioli completes this flavourful dish

Making the fish soup a day in advance will improve the flavour substantially

Making the fish soup a day in advance will improve the flavour substantially

Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 06:00

  • Serves: 4


  • Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, stalks and leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ tsp saffron filaments
  • 1 x 400g can tomatoes, chopped and their juice
  • ¼  bottle of dry white wine
  • 600ml fish stock
  • 1 lemon – juiced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g of very fresh fish, skinned and cubed.
  • For the aoili (garlic mayonnaise)
  • Makes 750 ml/1¼ pints
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 300 ml (1 pt) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the rouille
  • 1 thick slice of bread
  • Fish stock or water2 cloves of garlic1 roasted red pepper2 small fresh red chillies2 egg yolks1tsp Dijon mustard250ml olive oil


This soup has been part of my cooking life for 30 years. I do play around with this recipe a little depending on what’s available and sometimes I spice it up a little. Making it a day in advance will improve the flavour substantially. The secret is a good quality home-made stock (one made from shellfish in the summer will give you a totally different dish). I then serve it with a dollop each of rouille sauce and aioli, with some grated cheese and home-made garlic croutons.

1. Heat a large saucepan and add a good splash of oil and sweat the onion and  celery for at least 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Add the garlic, cucumber, herbs, saffron, tomatoes, stock and wine bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, add a good squeeze of lemon juice, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. At this stage you can cool the soup down and store in the fridge until needed.

3. When ready to eat, bring back to the boil.

4. Add the prepared fish and remove from the heat – the fish will cook in the heat of the soup.

5. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

6. Serve with grated mature Coolea cheese, plus a dollop of rouille sauce or aioli (I like both here) and croutons - recipes for these, below.

To make the aioli (garlic mayonnaise)

 1. Pound the garlic with a little salt to a cream in a mortar with a pestle, or chop very fine with a knife and with the back of your knife, mash it to a paste.

2. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice in a bowl and add the garlic paste.

3. Whisk in the oil, a few drops at a time at first, then continue whisking and adding the oil in a steady stream. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Alternatively, put all the ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor processor or blender and mix well. Dribble in the oil while the motor is running. Taste and adjust seasonings.


 You will find this much easier to make than the aioli recipe as there is less chance of it separating. If you want to make a simple version or would like to skip the eggs and/or bread, double the quantity of roasted red peppers and whizz with the chopped chillies, garlic and mustard and then, slowly add in the 200ml of oil.

1. Remove the crusts from the bread, soak in fish stock (or water), then squeeze dry. Finely chop the garlic. Skin and deseed the red pepper. Deseed and finely chop the red chillies.

2. Put all of these into a food processor, along with the egg yolks and mustard. Slowly add the oil until it has all been incorporated and the mixture is thick. Taste for seasoning.

Garlic croutons

I used to do this the hard way by frying slices of bread in olive oil and then rubbing the garlic into the hot fried bread. They’re really lovely this way and you will find you will have most of them eaten before you even get to sit to the table. Then I discovered an easier way for the cook while having bouillabaisse in Marseille: Take two slices of day-old bread, cut into large cubes and bake in a medium oven until golden. Allow to cool and serve with peeled whole garlic cloves. Each person can then rub the garlic into the croutons as needed before adding them to their soup.