Bon Appétit calls this dish a Fish Stew with Fennel and Baby Potatoes, a perfectly acceptable name except that this fish concoction seemed at odds with the description “stew” especially after I had toyed with it and custom-made it to fit my wishes. In the end, it turned out to be a gloriously light and meaty fish and broth mélange, something that nestled comfortably between a soup and a chowder. Rachael Ray might name this fish soup a choup, meaning that it’s thicker than a soup but not quite a chowder, but I’ll simply call it a Fish Soup with Fennel and Baby Potatoes.
Whatever you decide to call it, make sure you try this recipe! It’s super easy and fast to whip up and the result is deliciously refined. I first made this soup a couple of days after I laid my eyes on it in the April issue of Bon Appétit and more than half a dozen times since. But the best part about this simple yet flavor-complex fish soup is that it instantly brings me back to Westport, MA and The Bayside Restaurant where I used to religiously devour their legendary Rhode Island style chowders (and the ridiculously stuffed lobster roll) on our regular trips to the beach every summer when we lived in Boston.
Overall, this dish is so refreshing and summery, piled up with subtle flavors and silky fish. The crème fraȋche gives the soup a pleasant richness while still keeping a thin and light broth. The corn and potatoes add a tad of sweetness and that extra level of texture, the dill brings freshness and color, whereas the highly encouraged squeeze of lemon before serving brightens up the symphony of aromas. It is so good, you’ll make this soup all summer long!
Fish Soup with Fennel and Baby Potatoes
Adapted from Bon Appétit (April 2014)
Makes: 6-8 servings
· ¼ cup olive oil
· ½ lb. small waxy potatoes (such as baby Yukon Gold), scrubbed, sliced ¼” thick
· ½ medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
· 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
· Freshly ground black pepper
· ¼ cup dry white wine
· 1 cup frozen corn
· Heaped ¼ cup crème fraȋche
· 1 ½ lb. skinless flounder or fluke fillet, cut into 2” pieces
· 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
· Lemon wedges (for serving)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook them, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the fennel and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 4 minutes.
Add the corn and 6 cups of water to the pot, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the crème fraȋche. Add the flounder and 2 more cups of water, cover the pot, and reduce the heat. Simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir the dill into the soup; season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with lemon wedges.
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)