Catalan Fish Soup

A spicy and interesting dish, Catalan Fish Soup is a meal in itself and need only be accompanied by hot, crusty bread.

1½ oz. butter 1

½ pints water 2 teaspoons salt 3½ lb. sea bream, gutted, trimmed and with bones and trimmings

reserved

2 fl. oz. olive oil

3 small onions, finely chopped 3 medium-sized tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped 16 fl. oz. dry white wine

2 tablespoons ‘chopped fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon dried thyme 6 grindings black pepper

2 oz. cup blanched, toasted and ground almonds

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Using

1 tablespoon of the butter, grease a large ovenproof casserole and set it aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the water and 1 teaspoon of salt to the boil over high heat.

Add the bones and trimmings of the bream to the pan and reduce the heat to moderate. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Strain the fish stock into a measuring jug and reserve 16 fluid ounces . Discard the bones and trimmings.

In another large saucepan, heat the oil and remaining butter over moderate heat. Add the onions and cook them for 5 to 6

minutes, or until they are soft but not brown.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Add the reserved fish stock, wine, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, the remaining salt and the pepper to the pan and bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400 F (Gas Mark 6, 200 C).

Add the almonds and garlic to the sauce and stir well to blend. Remove the pan from the heat.

Cut the bream flesh into 2-inch slices and place them in the buttered casserole. Pour the sauce over the fish.

Cover the casserole and place it in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Take out and discard the bay leaf. Serve at once.

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