A French-style fish soup with beautifully aromatic potatoes
Olive oil, for roasting and frying
2kg red or tub gurnards, filleted and pin boned, keeping the bones and discarding the gills, guts and blood line
1 head of fennel, chopped
2 Spanish onions, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 star anise
3 pinches of saffron
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds
60g tomato purée
250ml white wine
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
6 plum tomatoes, cut into 4
1 bay leaf
18 charlotte potatoes
6 slices of sourdough
240g gruyere cheese, grated
Oil up the bones of the gurnard and place them on a roasting tray in the oven at 200C for 25 mins. This should get a fantastic golden colour on the bones.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, sweat down the prepared fennel, onions and celery in a splash of olive oil with the star anise, 2 large pinches of saffron, cayenne, and fennel seeds, reserving the tomatoes for later.
Once fully sweated (around 10-15 mins), add the tomato purée, cook for a few mins, then add the brandy and ignite carefully with your head well away from the pan. Next, pour in the wine, tinned and fresh tomatoes, top up with water or fish stock, add the roasted bones—deglazing the pan with water to get off all the caramelised bits—bring to the simmer and cook for 45 mins on a low heat.
While the soup is cooking, turn your charlotte potatoes into barrels. Cook these in simmering water with a pinch of saffron and enough salt to taste. After 20 mins, check the potatoes with a skewer. Once ready, remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saffron stock.
Take the gurnard out of the fridge, portion into six and season with salt.
Now pass the liquid firstly through a colander and then a finer sieve. Reduce the soup by half in the same large saucepan and check the seasoning.
Lightly toast the bread, add the cheese and put under a hot grill until melted and bubbling.
Once reduced, poach the fillets of gurnard for 2-3 mins depending on thickness. Reheat the charlotte potatoes and serve in bowls with the fish soup, and gruyere toast alongside.
Recipe: Luke Robinson