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Extract from The Food Of Italy • By Claudia Roden • Published by Random House


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25 mins

FISH SOUP (brodetto alla marchiagiana)
Every region of Italy has its own fish soup. They come under different names – zuppa di pesce, brodo di pesce, ciuppin, brodeto, broeto, cacciuco, burrida, sburita. The difference lies in the varieties of fish and shellfish used (in Trieste they put in crabs, in Sardinia, lobster) and in the use or not, of onions or garlic, or vinegar or white wine, and tomatoes. Tuscan cacciucco has ginger, in Romagna they put in a large amount of garlic, in the Abruzzi and the south, plenty of chilli. Occasionally you find a few mashed anchovies, or pieces of potato or a bell pepper. Here is a list of fish and seafood that are used: sole, flounder, turbot, red mullet, sea bass, sea bream, monkfish, John Dory, hake, sardines, anchovy, eel, cuttlefish, squid, baby octopus, mussels, clams, prawns or lobster. Scorfano, a rockfish, is often included to give flavour to the liquor and then removed. The traditional way is to use whole fish and the make stock with the heads. It is more dramatic to have whole fish in the soup but more practical to have fillets and no bones. If you don’t have a big enough pan or casserole make it in two and put the contents together in a big baking dish to continue cooking or to heat through in the oven, covered with foil. Here is a basic recipe for a wonderful soup with just 3 types of fish (I like monkfish, bream and red mullet) and king prawns.

Serves 6-8

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© 2019 Claudia Roden / Random House · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Fry the onions in the oil over low heat until soft – about 15 minutes, stirring often, then add the garlic and fry until they are lightly golden. Add the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and the vinegar and simmer 10 minutes, then add the fish stock and cook for 10-20 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper.
    Put in the fish in the order of the cooking time they need, starting with the monkfish, if using, and add the prawns for the last 3 minutes. Add the parsley and serve with slices of toasted bread.

  • Step 2


    -Stir in ½ teaspoon saffron threads, or ½ teaspoon good quality saffron powder towards the end of the cooking. In the Marches they use their own type of wild saffron called zafferanella
    - Stir in ½-1 teaspoon powdered ginger.
    - Put 1 or 2 whole chillies with the fish stock and take them out when the soup is peppery enough to your taste.
    - Add mussels or clams. Open them in another pan (see page 422) and arrange them on top.

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