One of the most inspiring places I have ever been is Biot, in the hills above Antibes in the South of France. John and I were there in 1996, can't remember how long we stayed but long enough to make a baby, and long enough that the Bourride at Hotel les Arcades was engraved to a collective memory, the most inspired dish on this emerald earth.
A simple enough preparation, we make fish soup now with what we have, adding taste layers but never messing with the elements. You've got to have clam broth and saffron, and a good little tin of tomato paste. The rest you can improvise. The affect of Bourride, our fish soup, is coals for a snow day or shade for a sunny one. This is creative perfection.
BOURRIDE or FISH SOUP
Preparation time: 25 minutes
INGREDIENTS (be creative)
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of chopped onions
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup of fresh chopped tomato (about 1 medium sized tomato)
- 2 tsp of tomato paste.
- 8 oz of clam juice (comes in a glass bottle in the soup aisle or at the seafood counter)
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 lb fish fillets (like halibut, cod, monk fish), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1-2 sweet Italian sausage links, chopped in bite sized pieces
- 6-10 Mussels, washed and picked clean
- Sprinkle of dried oregano, thyme, black pepper, Tobasco
- 10 or 15 strands of saffron
1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté 4 minutes. Add parsley and stir 2 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer.
2 Add clam juice, dry white wine, and fish and simmer until fish is cooked through, less than 10 minutes. Add seasoning. Salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve.
With it, Manchego cheese and the bread you love, a plate of butter lettuce drizzled with good olive oil, the juice of a fresh lemon and a palmful of salt.
Night Fishing at Antibes, Picasso, August 1939. Click to learn about it.