A delightful little number that I had on a couple of occasions in Avignon and the only time that I have eaten eel! Of course, at the time of eating I was quite unaware of what fish actually made up the soup. If I had to describe the Bisquebouille Avignon, I’d say it falls neatly between a bouillabaisse and a bourride.
It’s quite delicate in character and perhaps if you are a fan of more robust stews and soups, you might find its lightness a little disappointing. Now that’s where the aioli comes in – not only do we use it here to thicken the bisquebouille but it is also meant to deepen the flavour. I love sprinkling some chilli flakes over for a little bite and my husband prefers a light sprinkling of parsley on his.
The versions I had also contained some white fish and clams. In this recipe, I’m using monkfish (always a favourite of mine in seafood stews), sea bream, scallops, prawns and langoustines to top each dish with.
A word to the wise: the langoustines add depth to the dish and make a great visual statement but like prawns with shells on, they are fiddly to eat. You could shell them prior to cooking, leaving just the tail on, that would work splendidly too. Remember that we are keeping all shells and fish bones to make our own delicate fish stock. It’ll only take about 25 minutes to make the fish stock, so don’t skip that part and buy shop bought, it won’t be the same.
You can make ahead until the end of step 7, then finish it all off in 7 minutes and serve!
- 200g monkfish tail
- 100g sea bream
- 100g large prawns (shrimp)
- 100g scallops
- 4 langoustines
- 1 leek
- 1 celery
- half a fennel bulb
- 1 small carrot
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- a pinch of saffron
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 600ml water
- 200ml medium cider
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp aioli and a small bowl more to serve
- chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- Keeping aside all bones, cut the fish into bitesize pieces, roughly the size of the scallops. The monkfish tail ought to have a great piece of bone for the stock.
- Next, cut all the vegetables to about 2.5cm/1" in size and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on low heat and sauté the vegetables for about 10 minutes until they are soft and fragrant. Stir frequently to avoid browning.
- Increase the heat to high and add the water and all the fish bones and shells, the saffron and half a tsp of salt.
- Bring to boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- With a skimmer or a ladle, remove any large pieces of bones and shells, then strain the whole lot into a clean saucepan, pressing down on all the vegetables to get all that delicious goodness into your broth.
- Place the broth on medium heat and add the cider and bring to boil.
- Add all the fish and shellfish, including the langoustines, bring back to boil, then lower heat and simmer to cook the seafood for about 5 minutes, until everything is cooked through.
- Place 2 tbsp of aioli in a cup and add 1 ladleful of the soup and mix to lighten the aioli.
- Pour this mix back into the soup and stir gently but thoroughly to mix it all in and thicken the soup.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper and check seasoning. Add some more salt if needed.
- Divide equally into 4 four bowls, topping each with a langoustine and some dried chilli flakes and parsley.
- Serve immediately with a side helping of more aioli, for everyone to add to their soup if they want, and with lots of crusty bread or even garlic bread to mop up all that delicious soup.