This is a very light soup that relies on the freshest seafood and a good quality fish or vegetable stock. Cook the base ahead, reheat and add the seafood just before serving.
16 small mussels
1 cup white wine
750 ml fish or vegetable stock
1 fat stalk lemongrass or 1 tablespoon frozen lemongrass
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, white and pale green part only, thinly sliced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
small handful flat-leaf parsley
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 raw prawns
400 grams firm white fish
16 cherry tomatoes
Scrub the mussels and pull off the beard. Soak the cockles in cold water for 20 minutes to purge the sand.
Place the mussels, cockles and wine in a saucepan over a high heat. Cover and steam until they have opened, shaking the pan occasionally. Discard any that don’t open. Transfer the shellfish to a bowl, pull off one shell from each and discard. Cool, cover and refrigerate.
Strain the cooking juices through a muslin-lined sieve into a saucepan and add the fish stock.
Cut off the bulb end (white part) of the lemongrass (about 6 cm) and discard the tough leaves. Very finely chop the lemongrass bulb and add to the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside for at least 1 hour or cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the leek, carrot and garlic with a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook gently without browning until the vegetables are tender. Add a splash of water if the pan is too dry. Strain the soup and discard the lemongrass. Add to the vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes. The soup can be cooled and refrigerated at this point.
To finish: Put the parsley, lemon zest and garlic on a board and chop together. Reheat the soup base if made ahead. Cut the fish into large bite-size pieces and season. Add the fish, prawns and tomatoes to the soup, cover and cook over a very low heat until the prawns are pink and the fish is just cooked through.
To serve: Divide the seafood and tomatoes between serving bowls and ladle over the soup. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.
Bags of frozen, chopped lemongrass are available at Asian food stores. Cut a small piece from the frozen block, about 1 tablespoon, and return the rest to the freezer. Place on a chopping board and chop roughly before adding to the stock.
Menu: Serve this with Chicken with Zucchini, Basil, Pine Nuts and Tomato Jam as main, and Ginger Beer Poached Pears to finish.