This recipe came with settlers from Cornwall, where the precious spice saffron is a traditional ingredient in both savoury dishes and cakes. The saffron gives rich golden colour and a delicate almond-like flavour to the soup.
1 kg snapper, ling, hake or other white fish fillets
2 bay leaves
Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
6 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.25 litres water
60 g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup plain flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Pinch of saffron strands, soaked in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 10 minutes
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra salt, if needed
Chopped fresh parsley and fine strips of lemon rind, to garnish
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Remove the skin from the ﬁsh ﬁllets and put it into a saucepan with a quarter of the ﬁsh, the bay leaves, lemon rind and juice, peppercorns, salt and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock into a bowl through a large sieve and reserve. Remove the ﬁsh from the sieve, take out any bones, then mash the fish with a fork and set aside. Discard the skin, bay leaves, lemon rind and peppercorns.
Melt the butter in a clean saucepan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft but not browned. Stir in the ﬂour and cook for 1 minute more. Stirring constantly, gradually blend in the strained stock and milk and bring to the boil.
Cut the remaining ﬁsh into wide strips and add them to the soup with the saffron mixture. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the ﬁsh is almost cooked. Stir in the reserved mashed ﬁsh and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and a little more salt, if necessary. Pour the soup into a heated tureen or four soup plates and garnish with chopped parsley and strips of lemon rind.