The summer holidays are drawing to a close and the coolness of Autumn is drifting on the air. The tastes, smells and sounds of summer will soon be a thing of the past and we will find ourselves enveloped in that warm Autumn glow. Autumn is my favourite time of year. A time to gather and to collect some of what Mother Nature has put every last ounce of her being into to provide nourishment for us in some almost prehistoric way, preparing us for the cold and dark to come.
As I write I am sitting on a rock watching my boys splash around in the sea as we soak the weakening rays of yet another beautiful August day. Our intention was to do some crab fishing, a lovely treat for the kids in the summer. We have a line with a hook to which we stick a piece of ham. It is always very exciting to see the crabs scurry out from the holes in the wall along the pier and launch themselves at the meat to which they will cling for dear life. You can see them fight with each other over the tiniest of morsels, yet another amazing fete of Mother Nature.
I am lucky to live in such a beautiful place and to live so close to the sea. It means seafood is something that is always fresh. A trip to West Cork a few months back saw us bringing home delicious local lobster. After we ate the meat I used the shells to make a full flavoured stock which I used as the base for my fish soup. I love the marriage of flavours in this, the lobster, tomatoes, fennel and Pernod. It is delicious served with a few slices of buttered homemade brown bread. Deeply satisfying and so tasty.
This is my recipe, I am beginning with the fish stock which is worth making but I’m sure some fish mongers may sell it too.
- Prawn and Lobster shells (ask your local fishman or if you are shelling prawns use these, the stock freezes well)
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 peppercorns
- Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot, cover with water and simmer on a low heat for 2.5-3 hours.
- Strain off the stock and use straight away are measure out and put in ziplock bags and freeze.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 whole bulb of fennel, trimmed and chopped ( keep any of the green fronds at the top for garnishing)
- 1 carrot
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 10-12 raw, peeled prawns
- 5 or 6 crab claws
- 750 ml of hot shellfish stock
- 1-2 tbsp of Pernod or Ouzo
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Sunflower Oil
- Double Cream to serve
- Heat a saucepan on a medium heat and when it’s hot add the onions, carrots and fennel. Season with salt and pepper, place the lid on and sweat the vegetable for 10 mins.
- Once the vegetables are soft and golden turn the heat up and add the Pernod allowing it to sizzle and reduce down quickly, straight away pour in the hot fish stock. Simmer for roughly 5 minutes or until the vegetable have softened.
- Place in a blender and blend until smooth then pass the soup through a sieve, this is optional but will give you a wonderful silky smooth texture.
- Put back on the heat and add the prawns and cooked crab claws. The prawns should cook in a minute or so and the crab claws heat through in this time.
- Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of cream and some brown bread on the side.