Catalan fish soup (Susan Bell/PA)
02 September 2021

Claudia Roden’s Catalan fish soup recipe

02 September 2021

“The Catalan bullinada is like the bourride of the French Riviera and the gazpachuelo of Malaga – a fish soup with garlic mayonnaise stirred in,” says Claudia Roden. “It has a mysterious delicate flavour and beautiful warm colour.”

The veteran food writer suggests using fish such as hake, monkfish or cod cheeks, and adding squid or prawns if you like: “You can make much of it inadvance and finish the soup a few minutes before you are ready to eat.”

(Susan Bell/PA)

Claudia Roden’s Catalan fish soup recipe

Ingredients:(serves 6)

1 large onion, chopped2 tbsp olive oil8 garlic cloves: 6 finely chopped and 2 crushedgood pinch of saffron threads2 litres fish stock (use 3 fish stockpots)100ml dry white wine800g new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices1 tsp fennel seedsstrips of peel from ½ orange800g skinless fish fillets, such as hake or monkfish200ml good-quality bought mayonnaisejuice of ½ lemongood pinch of chilli pepper, plus extra to serve4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsleysalt and black pepper


1. In a wide pan, fry the onion in the oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the chopped garlic and stir for 2 minutes until it just begins to colour.

2. Stir in the saffron and pour in the fish stock and the wine, then put in the potatoes, fennel seeds and orange peel and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 20–25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

3. Ten minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the orange peel and put in the fish. Cook, covered, over low heat for 4–10 minutes, depending on the fish and the thickness of the fillets, until the fish becomes opaque and the flesh begins to flake when you cut into it with a pointed knife. Break the fillets into pieces.

4. In a jug, beat the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, the crushed garlic and a pinch of chilli.

5. Just before serving, add a ladleful or two of the hot stock into the mayonnaise mixture and beat it in, then gently stir into the simmering soup. Heat through but do not let it boil or the mayonnaise will curdle. Serve sprinkled with parsley and pass round some chilli for anyone who would like to add more.

(Susan Bell/PA)

Med by Claudia Roden, photography by Susan Bell, is published by Ebury Press, priced £28. Available now.

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