Before Nate and I moved to London we spent six months living in Geneva, Switzerland. Since Geneva is so centrally located in Western Europe and they drive on the "right" side of the road we took many weekend road trips. One of the most memorable was driving along the North-Western coast of Italy. We weaved around the small roads and drove through many towns. We also took a train to Cinque Terre, five little fishing villages, inaccessible by car...
To remember the much better weather and delicious food I made Zuppa di Pesce - fish soup - for dinner.
There are hundreds of types of Italian fish soups. Depending on the regions and the particular cook the ingredients vary, except that they all have fish in them. Most seem to have tomato, but not all. Pesto, garlic, basil, pasta bits, chili peppers - might or might not be included. I've included barley in mine because I prefer the texture and look to pasta bits, but I don't think I've ever seen it in a recipe. Use the recipe below as a guide, but tweak it to meet your tastes. If its got fish and its in broth - it's Zuppa di Pesce.
ZUPPA DI PESCE
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 chili pepper, minced
- 1 handful basil leaves, save a few for garnish
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, or about 500g
- 2 1/2 c fish stock (chicken or vegetable stock is fine too)*
- 1/2 c barley
- 500 g mixture of fish and shellfish**
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced thick country bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic
Sweat onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili pepper, cook for another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and tear pieces of basil into the soup. Cook for about 15 minutes or until barley is cooked through. Add more stock if its too thick for you. Add fish, reserving any shellfish or prawns. Cook for about 6-8 minutes until fish is nearly cooked through. Add shellfish or prawns and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serves 4. Serve over warm, toasted bread and add a sprig of fresh basil.
*Sometimes I find fish soup to be too fishy. If fish stock is too strong as I find it sometimes is, use chicken or vegetable stock.
**I used a combination of the most sustainable fish available to me...line-caught Icelandic cod, Atlantic gurnard, tilapia, Arctic prawns, dive-caught scallops, and UK gig-caught squid.