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Fish Soup with Garlic, Saffron and Chilli

This is a previously unpublished recipe from Shaun Hill, chef proprieter of The Merchant House in Ludlow, the 2001 Catey award winner for independent restaurant of the year.

Shaun has a Michelin star and is a master craftsman. However, his food is elegant rather than elaborate and can therefore be reproduced in a domestic setting. The fact that Shaun describes his restaurant kitchen as both "dinky" and "tiny" in his book "Cooking At The Merchant House" indicates that he is familiar with the sort of restrictions that face many home cooks.

This is Shaun's own introduction to the recipe:

"This soup is meant to be warm and spicy rather than vindaloo. The method is based on bourride in that it is thickened with garlic mayonnaise but the result is sharper and more citric. The fish used can of course vary according to what suits and is available."

serves 6


100gr brill fillet
100gr red mullet fillet
100gr white scallop meat
2 shallots peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 clove garlic
average sized red pepper
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
5gr saffron threads
1 birdseye chilli chopped
1 thin slice orange
1 litre chicken stock

for the mayonnaise

1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
50ml sunflower oil
50ml olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

First make the garlic mayonnaise in the usual way by whisking in the oils to the lemon, mustard, egg yolks and garlic.

Sweat the shallots, pepper and celery in a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Add the saffron, chilli and orange then the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few moments. Add the fish in the order in which it takes to cook in this case the brill followed by the red mullet and then at the last moment the scallop.

Take the pan from direct heat and drain all the liquid into a blender along with the bits and pieces of vegetable and orange. Liquidise along with the mayonnaise. Add the mayonnaise a spoonful at a time and stop when the soup begins to thicken pour the soup back onto the fish and warm through before serving.