Fish stew with roast garlic & saffron

Fish stew with roast garlic & saffron

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(5 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr Cook: 1 hr, 45 mins

More effort

Serves 6

Try this simpler, lighter version of bouillabaisse, a classic fish soup - serve with toasted slices of baguette to mop up the tomato based sauce

Nutrition and extra info

  • soup base only
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal345
  • fat13g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs12g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre4g
  • protein32g
  • salt0.5g
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    For the saffron & garlic paste

    • 3 whole heads garlic



      Part of the lily, or alium, family, of which onions are also a member, garlic is one of the most…

    • 150ml good olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    • few good pinches of flaky sea salt
    • 50ml Pernod
    • good pinch of saffron strands



      The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

    For the soup

    • 1 fennel bulb
      Fennel bulb

      Fennel bulb

      Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate – its strong aniseed…

    • 4 celery sticks



      A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

    • 1 onion



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • 1 red chilli, seeds left in
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
      Fennel seeds

      Fennel seeds

      feh-nell seeds

      A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

    • pinch of saffron



      The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

    • 2 bay leaves
    • 50ml Pernod
    • 200ml white wine
    • 750ml passata
    • 3 grey mullet fillets (about 500g in total), skin on, cut into large chunks
    • 300g gurnard fillets, skin on, cut into large chunks



      A lean, firm, white-fleshed, prehistoric looking fish found in the Atlantic and Mediterranean…

    • 200g prepared squid and tentacles, cleaned and cut into rings



      From the same family as the octopus and cuttlefish, squid may look jellyish and unappetising but…

    • juice 1 lemon



      Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

    • 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
    • toasted slices of baguette, to serve


    1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. To make the saffron and garlic paste, cut the whole heads of garlic in half horizontally. Place the garlic heads, cut-side up, on a small baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt. Cover with foil and bake for 40-50 mins until softened. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15-20 mins until the garlic has turned golden brown.

    2. Meanwhile, make the soup base. Chop the fennel, celery and onion into small dice and thinly slice the red chilli. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped vegetables. Grate the garlic into the pan and add the fennel seeds. Stir well, then cover and sweat for 10 mins. Add the saffron and bay leaves, and cook for a further 10 mins until the vegetables start to soften. Pour in the Pernod and wine, bring to the boil, then add the passata and 400ml water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 mins until all of the flavours have started to work together, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool a little.

    3. Transfer the soup to a jug blender and blend until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan – you may need to do this in batches. If the soup needs thickening, reduce over a medium heat. When it is the consistency of pouring cream, remove from the heat and set aside, or leave to cool and chill in the fridge until needed. The base of the soup can be made 3 days ahead.

    4. Meanwhile, for the paste, pour the Pernod into a small saucepan and add the saffron. Bring to the boil, add the olive oil and warm gently. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

    5. When the garlic is golden brown, remove the tray from the oven and squeeze the cloves out into the bowl of a pestle and mortar. Add a large pinch of flaky sea salt and pound to a paste. Slowly add the saffron-infused olive oil, stirring constantly. Transfer to a clean container and chill until needed.

    6. Bring the soup base to the boil in a large pan, then turn down to a light simmer and taste for seasoning. Add the chunks of prepared fish and squid, and gently poach the fish in the soup for 10 mins, or until it is just cooked. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls, piling up the fish in the centre. Spoon on the saffron and garlic paste and sprinkle over some more parsley. Serve with toasted slices of baguette and the extra saffron and garlic paste on the side.

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    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    14th May, 2015
    This is a great recipe for a dinner party. The sauce is easy to make in advance and then the fish cooks quickly at the last minute. Our fishmonger sells pre-packs of the grey mullet etc chopped and ready to use - ideal. I prefer to chop the veg finely and not to liquidise it. The garlic paste is lovely but tends to separate out from the oil. Still tastes good.
    2nd Jan, 2015
    Absolutely delicious! Made this for Christmas Eve dinner party. A bit time consuming but would thoroughly recommend making the paste and base a day or two in advance then all you need to do is heat it through and add the fish when it comes to cooking. Perfect dinner party main and really does taste like a Michelin starred restaurant dish (so my guests told me!). I only had one tbs of fennel seeds but it didnt take away from the dish at all. I also increased the recipe size by a half as I was cooking for 9 people. I used monkfish cut into chunks and raw prawns, as I couldn't find mullet or squid. I can imagine squid and mussels making a nice addition however. The monkfish worked really well. The garlic and saffron paste is fantastic and really adds to the dish. You definitely want a big dollop on each plate! :0) Served with homemade ciabatta garlic bread. Yum! Will be making this again for my next dinner party!
    3rd Sep, 2017
    Am I right in thinking that you add the paste whilst cold on top of the hot dish?
    goodfoodteam's picture
    6th Sep, 2017
    Thanks for your question. That's right, the paste does not need to be heated.
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