Mark Hix recipe: A hearty fish soup

Serves 4-6

Cheap and filling: A hearty fish soup
Cheap and filling: A hearty fish soup

Ever wonder what happens to all of the fish bones and heads in the world? Well, next time you're at the local fishmonger's, ask for a fish head and bones from, say, cod or haddock. You'll end up with enough meat from the head and cheeks to give you a bowl of hearty and healthy fish soup – and to cap it all, it will be virtually free of charge,

Head and bones from a large cod or haddock, washed
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
A couple of sticks of limp celery from your fridge, roughly chopped
The dregs of some white wine, about a glass full
1 bay leaf
1 fish stock cube
A handful of parsley, stalks and leaves separated and washed
A couple of large potatoes, peeled
1 large leek, cut into rough 2cm squares and washed
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2-3tbsp double cream (optional)

Cut your fish head in half, give it another wash and put it in a saucepan with the bones, onion, garlic, celery, wine, bay leaf and stock cube. Add a couple of litres of water, bring to the boil and season. Roughly chop one of the potatoes and add to the soup with the parsley stalks.

Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove the head and put to one side. Continue simmering the soup for another 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and blend the soup, bones and all, in a liquidiser or with a hand blender; then strain into a clean pan.

Remove as much meat as possible from the head and put to one side. Cut the remaining potato into rough 1-2cm chunks and add to the soup with the leek. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the potato is tender. Chop the parsley leaves and add to the soup with the pieces of fish and heat for another minute. Season to taste and finally, if you are using it, stir in the cream.

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