- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- 2 leeks, whites only, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 14-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 lb tiny whole fish (like porgies or whiting), gutted but heads intact
- 6 cups water
- 1 bouquet garni (1 parsley sprig, 2 thyme springs, and 1 bay leaf, wrapped in cheesecloth bundle)
- 2 strips of orange zest
- 3 strands of saffron
- 1 ounce Pernod
- Grated Parmesan
- In the large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, leeks, and fennel and let them sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with the wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, then add the small fish. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 6 cups of water, as well as the bouquet garni and orange zest. Stir well; add the saffron, salt and pepper, and Pernod. Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup cool slightly. Taking care not to splatter or scald yourself, strain the liquid into the large bowl. In the pot, crush the heads, bones, and vegetables as much as possible, then pass that through the food mill in batches. Return to the pot along with the strained broth.
- Bring the soup back up to heat and serve with croutons, rouille, and some grated Parmesan on the side. The idea is to smear a little rouille on the croutons, float them in the soup as a garnish, and allow guests to sprinkle cheese as they wish.
Equipment needed for this recipe: large, heavy-bottomed pot; wooden spoon; fine strainer; large bowl; and a food mill.