Yield: 2 servings
Time: 30 minutes for Stage 1; 10 minutes for Stage 2
This was really good, very easy, and prepared entirely within an hour (including all prep). Used Alaskan Cod and omitted the mussles (fellow diner does not enjoy shellfish).
Preparation for this recipe is divided into stages. The author defines those stages as pre-baby’s-bedtime and post-baby’s-bedtime, allowing the parents to enjoy the meal once the baby is asleep. Alternatively, the ingredients could be multiplied and the stages just as easily applied to a dinner party, with pre-guests-arrival and post-arrival-pre-mealtime.
- 1 small onion
- 1 rib celery
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 head fennel (save wispy tops for garnish)
- 3 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup canned tomato purée, preferably San Marzano
- 4 whole peeled canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, rinsed and chopped
- 20 mussels, scrubbed
- 3/4 pound skinless flaky white fish fillets, such as halibut, cut into two pieces.
- Stage 1, pre-bedtime. Put onion, celery, garlic and fennel in a food processor, and pulse gently until chopped into a coarse paste.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coarsely processed vegetables to pan, and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons Pernod, and boil until almost evaporated. Add red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce for 2 minutes, and add tomato purée and chopped tomatoes. Bring to boil, stir, cover and remove from heat.
- Stage 2, post-bedtime. Return saucepan to medium heat until barely simmering. Gently slide mussels and fish into broth. Bring broth back to a simmer, and cook, stirring once or twice to give mussels room to open, until mussels and fish are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Divide mussels and fish into warmed bowls. Pour soup over all, and scatter with fennel tops. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon Pernod (skip Pernod if children are eating) and more olive oil. Serve immediately with crusty bread, if desired.
Source: from Keith Dixon in the New York Times, February 27, 2008