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Valentine Warner fishes his way to a sensational starter of seabass soup.


  • 1 fresh sea bass, skinned & filleted and cut into bite size pieces

  • ½ onion, finely sliced

  • 2 small leeks, finely sliced

  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 300ml white wine

  • 300ml water

  • Small bunch fresh parsley

  • Toasted bread to serve

  • Salt

  • Black pepper

  • Olive oil

  • For the garlic mayonnaise (makes approx 200ml):

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

  • ½ lemon, juice only

  • 150ml sunflower oil

  • 50ml olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped


  • 1.

    Heat some olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, leeks, celery, potatoes and fennel seeds to the pan. Cook for approx 8 minutes until softened and then add the fennel, bay leaves, white wine and water. Season with a pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

  • 2.

    Bring to a simmer and leave to cook until the potatoes are nearly tender.

  • 3.

    Now add the fish and stir gently into the pan. Cook for a further 2 -3 minutes before removing from the heat, ready to serve.

  • 4.

    While the soup cooks, to make the garlic mayonnaise, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

  • 5.

    Add the sunflower oil in a slow but steady drizzle whisking all the time, then do the same with the olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Taste and add a little more lemon juice if necessary. Finish by mixing in the finely chopped garlic.

  • 6.

    Chop the parsley and mix some through the soup reserving a little for garnish.

  • 7.

    Spoon some mayonnaise on to toasted bread and serve alongside the soup like giant croutons. Sprinkle with any leftover parsley.

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