All around the Mediterranean coasts there are variations of fish soup which have a lot in common, most notably the wonderful rock fish which come in so many different shapes and colours. From the Bouillabaisse of Marseilles to the Suquet of Roses and the Sopes de Peix from Mallorca one finds the same varieties of fish, sold collectively in Mallorca as Moralla. Small and spiny, they are ideal for making soup. They impart such a distinct Mediterranean flavour that cannot really be replicated away from these waters. However, a perfectly acceptable version of this soup may be achieved using bones and heads from monkfish, hake, John Dory or just about any other white fish.
Ingredients for 4 people
600 g rock fish (moralla), the more different varieties the better
4 larger specimens of rock fish
an onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, skin on, crushed
6 tomatoes, peeled an coarsely chopped
a bunch of spring onions, sliced into 1 cm lengths
a bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
brown country-style bread, very thinly sliced for sopes
saffron or yellow food colouring (‘colorante’)
salt and pepper
In a generous slug of olive oil, gently sweat the onion with the garlic. Throw in half the chopped tomatoes, and cook steadily until the mixture starts to dry out somewhat. Clean all the rock fish and add the little ones to the pan, reserving the larger ones for frying later
Stir them around for a minute to break them up a little, then cover them with water. (A little sea water if available will help the seasoning). Allow this to cook gently for 20 minutes so.
In a clean pan, heat some oil and gently fry the chopped spring onions, adding the remaining tomatoes when the onions are soft. Add the saffron or food colouring. Cook for ten minutes longer and then strain the fish soup into vegetable mixture.
Add the chopped parsley and simmer gently for a further 20 minutes. Check the seasoning. Meanwhile season and dredge the larger fish in flour and fry them in olive oil.
Place some slices of sopes bread in bowls and ladle the soup over.