Slow Cooker Riviera Fish Soup #French Fridays with Dorie

What is that flavor? There is just something unusual, a background taste that makes Riviera Fish soup just a little different from most chowders… it is Pernod.

When absinthe became illegal in France, it was blamed for driving some great creative minds crazy, Pernod who was a distributor, created pastis.

There is also a belief that a monk created pastis and Pernod popularized it. I wouldn’t be surprised if a monk developed the drink. Religious persons are credited with many wonderful alcoholic beverages from Dom Perignon to Chartreuse. 

I always associate liquor with religion. When I was growing up I knew when the priests from our parish were coming over to our house. It was the only time my parents would take everything out of the liquor cabinet. When I was a teenager I once asked my mother why priests drink so much? She gave me a wry looked and said, “What the heck else are they going to do?”
It seems that all Mediterranean countries have a anise flavored liquor. Ouzo in Greece. Raki in Turkey, Lebanon Arak…etc. As a young adult at family get togethers I would often make the mistake of adding milk to my coffee and having it curdle. The old timers would shake their head and say, “Why did you put milk in it? It’s Italian coffee, meaning it is spiked with Anisette. Some of my relatives liked their Anisette or Sambucca the opposite way: straight up with 3 coffee beans floating in it… sometimes flaming! Watch out, late at night when the priests have been tying one on…. I’m surprised the curtains never caught fire!
Off track…soup, not sauced… is the topic. Of course I had to simplify this recipe, because that’s what I do! I added the Pernod at the end… just one shot because my husband is not a big fan of the stuff, though he did like it in the soup. My kids and myself enjoyed this soup too… put fish in anything and we are happy. My daughter suggested mussels next time and I agree mussels would be a terrific addition to this dish. 

Slow Cooker Riviera Fish Soup
by Diane Balch inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Riviera Fish Soup from “Around my French Table.”
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 to 6 hours low
Keywords: slow-cooker soup/stew entree fish French
Ingredients (6 to 8)
  • 1.5 pounds of Frozen Cold Water Fish such as: Cod, Red Snapper, Haddock, Monkfish cut into 2 inch pieces (Trader Joes sells frozen piece of Cod)
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced and salted
  • 3 pinches of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Piment d’ Espelette or red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 15 ounce cans of fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 28 ounce of diced tomatoes
  • 1 4 inch strip of an orange zest
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 potatoes peeled and cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb top removed chopped
  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons of pastis (Pernod or Ricard)
  • garnish: toasted bagette with rouille (Boar’s Head Savory Remoulade is a good substitute)
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1) Whisk together: olive oil, garlic, saffron, salt and pepper, thyme, piment d’ espelette, tomato paste.
2) Whisk seasoning mixture with fish stock. Stir in tomatoes, orange zest and bay leaf. Set aside.
3) Layer in a large crockpot: potatoes, onions, carrots, fennel. Top the vegetables with the frozen fish and parsley on top.
4) Pour fish stock seasoning mixture over fish. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until potatoes are tender. Make sure the potatoes are cut very small or they won’t cook. If you can start the soup on high for an hour it will ensure that the potatoes get soft or you can microwave the potatoes on high for 3 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker.
5) Just before serving put 1 tablespoon of pastis in soup stir. Decide if this is enough of this seasoning, if not add more. Check salt and pepper.
Garnish: toasted bagette pieces and rouille.

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