From Nick de Toldi

A BEST SELLER OF THE FRENCH CUISINE (Special for young fishermen).

I have noticed among foreign visitors (Hi Kirk !) that the fish soup
prepared like in Provence, always meets an incredible success. This dish
looks like “wizard” work that only a few “Chefs” cand do but the reality is
much simpler. It is actually one of the easiest dishes that can be obtained
with a mixture of love and simple products. Why love ? 1st because you
should put some in anything you cook, and 2nd because the fish soup is THE
PRIDE of very young fishermen. In my own memory, “la soupe de poissons” is
probably the most beautiful fisherman souvenir. When you’re 10 years old,
anything you hook around 3 inches long is already “big game” fishing and
going back home with a plastic bucket full of shiny prays make you feel
like… Well nothing compares ! In the future “perfect world” some people
are building, young kids will probably be told that it is cruel to go
fishing, but before this delicious moment you can still enjoy your summer
holiday, waiting for the “fishermen’s return” and get prepared to another
pride: Preparing la “Soupe de Poissons”.

You need a kid’s bucket of very fresh (non silty*) small fish. Olive oil.
Two big potatoes, two big tomatoes, 1 big onion, 2 or 3 garlic “teeth”,
salt, pepper, a bit of saffron, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 pint of water for
each person.
Get roughly rid of fish bowels but keep heads and tails and all the rest.
First heat your olive oil with the garlic, the onions and smoothly add the
fish and let it fry for a while. Add also the tomatoes and potatoes that
you have cut into small parts.
When it is all warm “singing” enough, put the water and season accordingly
with salt, pepper, saffron, thyme, bay leaf etc…
Boil until the moment the potato pieces are starting to disappear.

Pass it all through a strainer, taste and add salt or pepper
if needed.

It must be served with slices of French type bred, toasted in the pan with
olive oil and garlic. You can also put on the table grated “gruyère” cheese
that you spread over soup and toasts, in the plate and this special spicy
mayonnaise called “rouille”. La “rouille” is obtained very simply by making
a normal mayonnaise in which you incorporate a mashed garlic “tooth” plus a
bit of saffron making the “rusted” colour.

I am not sure all kids will enjoy the dish but adults surely will
especially if a chilled rosé or dry white good wine comes along. But all
kids will be proud to see parents and friends enjoying result of their hard
fishing days.

*Small colorful sea “rock-fish” like in the Mediterranean sea are the best.
However, almost any fish can be used. Almost each region of France has its
“soupe” and all species of fish are used.