This classic French fish soup originates from Marseilles. If possible, buy whole fish and fillet them yourself, using the bones and trimmings to make a flavourful stock
2 1/4 pound mixed fish fillets and shellfish, such as red mullet, John Dory, monkfish, red snapper, whiting, mussels in shells, cooked large shrimps and crab claws
pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
14 ounce can plum tomatoes, or skinned, deseeded flavourful fresh ones, chopped
bouquet garni (thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley sprigs)
1 strip of orange zest
1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 pints fish stock
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1. Cut the fish fillets into bite-sized pieces.
2. Put the saffron strands into a bowl, pour on 1/4 pint boiling water and leave to soak.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, leek, celery and garlic and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, bouquet garni, orange zest, sun-dried tomato paste and fennel seeds; cook for 1 - 2 minutes.
4. Add the fish stock together with the saffron and its soaking liquid. Season with pepper and a little salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add the fish pieces and mussels (not the shrimps or crab claws) and cook for about 5 - 6 minutes, until the fish is just cooked and the mussels have opened; discard any unopened ones.
6. Stir in the chopped herbs, shrimps and crab claws. Heat through and serve in warmed bowls with plenty of crusty bread.