Hail the weekend, and this Fish Soup!

I for one have had a long week and am happy it’s finally Friday night. If you live in Brooklyn I recommend you do one thing this weekend, go to the Blue Moon Bash. If you don’t live in Brooklyn (or do, and are up for 2 things this weekend), then I recommend you make this fish soup.

I remembered enjoying this recipe from a beautiful Moroccan cookbook Brad gave me a few years ago. It was my motivation for making harissa – that wonderfully spicy North African chili paste I wrote about earlier this week. But this fish soup, in a rich tomato broth grounded with spice and full of roasted red peppers, was so much better than I remembered it. Once you’ve got harissa and some fish stock on hand, it’s pretty quick and easy to make. Serve it with some crusty bread and enjoy your weekend.

"Chorba Bil Hout" or Fish Soup, from Food of Morocco

According to the cookbook, this soup is typical cuisine of the Northern city of Tetouan, where there is still much influence from Spain. I used a combination of monkfish (did you know that in Italian, the word for monkfish translates to frog fish?) and sea bass. The only other thing you need to know is that is was delicious.

Chorba Bil Hout, a Moroccan Fish Soup

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons harissa to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • water
  • 14 oz chopped tomatoes (I used some last chance Fall tomatoes, but canned tomatoes will work just fine)
  • 1+3/4 lbs boneless firm, white fish fillets, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cut the peppers into quarters and remove the membrane and seeds. Place under a broiler or grill until the skin blackens. Remove and place in a paper bag and close until cool enough to handle. Remove the blackened skin from the peppers, cut into thin strips and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the onions until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the harissa, tomato paste, garlic, cumin and 1/2 cup of water and cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and sticky. *If you’re using fresh tomatoes, add them now and stir occasionally for 5 minutes until they start to release their juices. Otherwise, proceed and add the fish stock, tomato, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and add the bay leaves and fish. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through and opaque.

Remove the fish from the broth with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard the bay leaves, then puree the remianing mixture (an immersion blender is ideal here). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the fish to the pot along with the peppers and gently reheat if necessary. Serve garnished with the chopped coriander and crusty bread.

*This recipe was adpated from the cookbook Food of Morocco by Jane Lawson

One Response to “Hail the weekend, and this Fish Soup!”

  1. #

    Kimberley says:

    I am crazing fish stew in a major way right now. Perhaps you are psychic. I have some mussels in my fridge, which may lead to some variation on this. Yum.

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