Traditionally this fishermen's soup is made from freshwater fish, including eel, although in Normandy, they use sea fish and conger eel. Any firm fish can be used, but try to include at least some eel, and use a robust dry white or red wine for extra flavor.

  • 1 kg / 2¼ lb mixed fish, including 450 g / 1 lb conger eel if possible
  • 50 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup butter
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 1 bottle dry white or red wine
  • 1 fresh bouquet garni containing parsley, bay leaf, and chervil
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • beurre manie for thickening (see COOK'S TIP)
  • salt and cayenne pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 25 g / 1 oz / 2 tbsp butter
  • 12 baby (pearl) onions, peeled
  • 12 button (white) mushrooms
  • chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Cut all the fish into thick slices, removing any obvious bones. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the fish and sliced vegetables and stir over a medium heat until lightly browned. Pour in the wine and enough cold water to cover. Add the bouquet garni and spices and season. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, until the fish is tender, skimming the surface occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Heat the butter in a deep frying pan and sauté the baby onions until golden and tender. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden. Season and keep hot.
  3. Strain the soup through a large sieve placed over a clean pan. Discard the herbs and spices in the sieve, then divide the fish among deep soup plates (you can skin the fish if you wish, but this is not essential) and keep hot.
  4. Reheat the soup until it boils. Lower the heat and whick in the beurre manie little by little until the soup thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour over the fish. Garnish each portion with the sautéed baby onions and mushrooms and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
    To make the beurre manie for thickening, mix 15 g / ½ oz / 1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour. Add to the boiling soup, a pinch at a time, whisking constantly.