1 Tbsp EVOO
5 slices bacon, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs and their greens, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp flour
2 small baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 qt. chicken stock or broth
1 c heavy cream or half and half
1 8-o. bottle clam juice
2 lbs. lean, flaky fish (cod, haddock, halibut, monkfish, or Tilapia,skinned and cut into 1-2" pieces
Hot sauce to taste
3 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
3 Tbsp basil
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove the crispy bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and reserve.
Add the onion, celery, thyme sprigs, basil, garlic, and S&P to the pot, and cook for about 3 minutes, mixing it every now and then. Add the flour to the vegetables, stirring to distribute, and cook for 1 minute. Add the thinly sliced potato, then whisk in the chicken stock, heavy cream, and clam juice. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the fish and continue to gently simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down a little if the pot is boiling rather than simmering. Add the desired amount of hot sauce and taste for seasoning; add more S&P accordingly.
To serve, carefully ladle the soup into bowls, trying not to break up the fish too much. Garnish each bowl with a little of the reserved crispy bacon and some chopped parsley. Serve the soup alongside a simple mixed green salad.
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