Whitstable Fish Soup

This soap makes an extremely delicious start to a luncheon or dinner party. Whitstable Fish Soup has the added luxury of oysters and marigold petals – the latter being obtainable from most health food stores.

1 lb. white fish, cleaned with the heads and tails left on

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, scraped and thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon dried thyme

3 black peppercorns, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

2 pints water

2 oz. beurre manie

6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced

2 pints milk

2 tablespoons dried marigold petals

18 fresh oysters, shelled, or canned oysters, drained

Place the fish in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrot, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Pour in the water and place the pan over high heat. Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until the fish flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove the pan from the heat.

Pour the mixture through a fine wire strainer set over a large bowl. Remove and discard all the bones, heads and tails from the strainer. Add the remaining fish flesh and vegetables to the stock in the bowl.

Place the fish stock in the jar of an electric blender and blend the ingredients at high speed until they are reduced to a fine watery puree. Return the liquid to the saucepan. Set the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Stir in the beurre manic, a little at a time, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the soup is thick and smooth.

Reduce the heat to low and add the potatoes and milk. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and tender.

Add half the marigold petals and the oysters and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes or until the colour from the marigold petals has infused into the soup.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the soup into a warmed soup tureen. Sprinkle with the remaining marigold petals and serve immediately.

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