23 July 2013

Random Recipes - Zuppe di Pesce with Brandy and Cream

The soup bowls have been empty for the past few weeks, as SB and I have enjoyed traditional summertime fare! Our grill has been going far more often than the stove top! That all changed, though, when Dom handed off this month's Random Recipe challenge and I counted out the cookbooks and then counted out the pages.

The 30th book on the cookbook shelf turned out to be an Italian favorite ... and on the 30th page a fish soup with a strange mix of ingredients. I must admit that I stared at the combination of flavours and wondered what SB would think of things! He's not as adventurous as I when it comes to 'new and novel' ... when Yankees get fish soup handed to them, they tend to compare it to 'the traditional chowder' and SB is about as Yankee as one can get ! This recipe is NOT the traditional chowder. It's more fitted to a small bowl with thin crusty croutons, served as a soup course and part of a larger meal.

That being said, we had a large spinach salad on the side and beautiful tomato and spinach bruschetta slices that were oozing a soft Brie-like cheese called Fromager d' Affinois. For SB, the bruschetta and salad were the high points of the meal. I enjoyed the soup, but the combination of the white wine and brandy put me off a bit and the amount of turmeric in the soup seemed way over the top ...

You live and you learn and that's what this Random Recipe thing is all about ! I have passed by this soup many times as I turned pages and went to comfortable choices. It takes a challenge such as Dom's monthly dare to wake me up and make me step outside the comfort zone!

Will I make this soup again? Probably not, but life's to short to always walk within the line and squares ... I'm glad we tried it ! There were no fireworks for us, but maybe you'll feel differently  ... here's the recipe in case you're feeling adventurous!

Zuppa di Pesce with Brandy and Cream
a recipe from The North End Italian Cookbook - 4th edition


1 ½ lb. fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used hake, but cod would work too)
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp. turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
¼ c. tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine
5 c. water
4 tbsp. brandy
2 c. cream

Making the Soup:

  1. Rinse the fish in cold water, dry off, cut into pieces and set aside on a cold platter.
  2. Place the olive oil in a deep soup pot. Add the onions and garlic, turmeric and thyme and cook over medium heat until glistening and semi-transparent.
  3. Add the fish, salt and pepper and cook, tossing gently to coat the fish with the spicy oils. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the white wine, tomato paste, and water. Gently break up the tomato paste and stir gently. Bring the soup to a soft boil, lower the heat immediately and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the cream and brandy, stirring to make a smooth creamy broth.
  6. Correct the salt and pepper amounts, to taste. Simmer for about 5 more minutes and serve. Don’t allow the soup to boil or the cream will curdle … leave the soup uncovered during this last warming.
  7. Serve garnished with a bit of green herb and crusty bread slices or croutons.


  1. Hey it's good to walk on the wild side once in a while! I love your honesty about this soup too!

    Cute bouquet, love the dill!

  2. loving the colour of this soup and I adore the bowl pattern too... I love fish soup but i find it's one of those things that people love or hate... but nice and summery, which is a godsend for a soup and quite rare.... love that I pushed you a little to make this and that you went for the challenge wholeheartedly... like you say, you learn something new every day! thanks so much for the entry x

  3. What a gorgeous bouquet photo - so pretty. I think the good thing about the Random Recipes challenge is that it does often push us out of the culinary comfort zone. Sometimes fantastic new discoveries are made, and other times, it's a bit more lacklustre - but always satisfying to be cooking something new.


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