Soupe de Poisson – Cream of Prawn Head Soup

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Prawns are not a regular feature of our meals, but we had exactly 10 of them as a taster between five of us last week barbecued as a kind of Gambas Pil Pil.

As my mother did, I kept all the heads, tails, and shells and rang her for her advice.  She (I find it hard to believe she’s 82) said just simmer them for 20 minutes with a bayleaf.  But I had a richer fish soup in mind, more like the Soupe de Poisson we enjoy in the South West of France.  So, based on a Recipe in Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean Cooking, this is what I came up with.

Serves 2

10 large large prawn heads, tails & shells
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 glass of wine
Tin of tomatoes
1 bayleaf
A couple of sprigs of thyme
A couple of sprigs of flat leaved parsley
A pinch of paprika
A few strands of saffron
1 tbsp brandy

In a saucepan, soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil.  When they start to brown add the prawn heads etc and stir around for about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, enough water just to cover the trimmings, and the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Take of the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a liquidiser.  Liquidise for a couple of minutes until smooth.  Strain the liquidised soup through a sieve back into the saucepan, squashing down the puree to squeeze out every last drop of goodness.  Check for seasoning.

In France, this is served with large croutons, grated emmental cheese, and spicy garlicky mayonnaise-like rouille.  But I won’t be going this far.

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