So I was really in the mood for some fish soup. In the outhouse I happen to have a couple of food freezers, one of which contains seafoods various, both freshly caught and some from the fish market down by the riverside. I decided on a whole coley, a couple of recent John Doreys and a handful of prawns.
To start, one roughly dices a carrot, an onion, a small bunch of celery and one drops them in a pan in which one has heated a good puddle of the virgin oil, along with a couple of cloves of garlic, still clothed but slightly squashed. When the veggie bits are soft and deliciously translucent looking, one chops the boney fish into good sized pieces and adds them to the pan, flesh, heads, fins and all, along with a good squeeze of tomato puree and a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, in my case bay leaves, parsley and oregano. You pour in a quarter of a bottle of white wine and squeeze in the juice of a lemon, in my case a huge one what my friend Pat brought back from Turkey last week.
At this stage it smells good. So you pour on three quarters of a pint of fish stock, which I made a while ago with prawn shells, bass bones and loads of stock vegetables and herbs and then strained and froze, bring it to a simmer then you put a lid on it and turn down the gas. Then you sit out in the garden for about forty five minutes with a good book and a couple of bottles of cold German Einkorn Weissbier. When you are jolted back to reality by the oven timer thing hollering at you, you saunter indoors, take the soup off the gas and pass it through a fine sieve into another saucepan.
Wash out the first pan quickly, melt a gobbet of butter in it and quickly fry the prawns until they go pink, signifying that they are cooked. Then pour on the lovely tomatoey fishey broth, which should actually be a little bit thicker than a broth, bring it back to just under the boil, then stir in a good bit of cream, double preferably but you’ll get away with single; I won’t judge your stinginess too harshly this time, and throw on a good sized pinch of freshly chopped parsley and a fine dusting of black pepper. Your mouth will fall in love.
On such evenings, with the heat of the day held still in the evening air and the honeyed scent of the lavender and astilbes masking the stench from the cathouse in the garden of the maniac who backs onto us, one could be forgiven for mistaking life as something of a blessing.
I’m adding this about ninety minutes after writing the stuff above, having just got home after my regular evening ride along the coast and back. Coming back, heading west as I have to into the setting summer sun, I swept gorgeously past a couple of cornfields. It was quite a sight as the sun, sitting relatively low above the horizon, was casting a blinding gold reflection off the sea. And the fields of wheat and barley, as well as the long flowering grasses in the verges, stole all the silver and gold you can picture from the light and scattered the colours around them. It was a nice experience seeing it. I thought someone might like to know. It’s been a quite shitty year so far, and it just looks now like things might be picking up. My youngest daughter, who has spent far too many long nights since February in hospital cramped up with pain is improving, so I can have a week away at least. Going away next week. So I’m getting a bit fucking happier. Is that alright with you?