Sea bass and fennel soup

    35 min

    This colourful soup is light yet satisfying. Chunky cubes of white fish, prawns and small pasta shells combine with the full flavours of fennel and leek to make a delicious first course. Serve with warm crusty bread, or chunky slices off a hearty mixed-grain loaf or poppy-seed bread plait.

    10 people made this

    Serves: 6 

    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 leek, sliced
    • 1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
    • 300 ml (10 fl oz) dry white wine
    • 900 ml (1½ pints) fish stock
    • 125 g (4½ oz) conchigliette (soup pasta shells)
    • 450 g (1 lb) sea bass fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
    • 2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
    • 1 tbsp cornflour
    • 115 g (4 oz) peeled cooked prawns
    • ½ tsp chilli sauce, or to taste
    • 2 tbsp single cream
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:35min 

    1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the leek and fennel, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Pour in the wine and fish stock, and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and stir the soup once, then leave to simmer for about 8 minutes or until the pasta is almost tender.
    3. Gently stir in the chunks of sea bass and the tomatoes, with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over a low heat for a further 2–3 minutes or until the fish is just firm.
    4. Meanwhile, blend the cornflour to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp water. Stir the cornflour mixture into the soup and bring it to the boil, stirring constantly. Add the cooked prawns and simmer gently for a further minute.
    5. Stir in the chilli sauce to taste. Add the cream and parsley, stir to mix and serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    Different types and brands of chilli sauce vary widely in flavour and some are very hot, so start with just a dash if you are not familiar with the product and then add more to taste. * Use 450 g (1 lb) each of monkfish fillet and scrubbed mussels instead of sea bass and prawns; add the mussels with the fish. Replace the fennel with 4 sliced celery sticks and 2 diced carrots. Discard any unopened mussels at the end of cooking. * Plain low-fat yogurt can be added instead of cream, but do not heat the soup once the yogurt has been added or it will separate. * Omit the chilli sauce and instead add 2 tbsp dry white vermouth; use chopped fresh dill instead of parsley.

    Plus points

    White fish is a rich source of protein and it contains very little fat. It is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and for maintaining a healthy nervous system. * Bulb or Florence fennel contains more phytoestrogen than most vegetables. This naturally occurring plant hormone encourages the body to excrete excess oestrogen, a high level of which is linked with a greater risk of breast cancer.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B6, B12, E, niacin * C, copper, iron, selenium * potassium

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