Fish soup with young fennel and rakı

Fish soup with young fennel and rakı

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Rakı is the national drink of Turkey and its anise flavour brings out the fennel in this seafood soup brilliantly. Serve with plenty of hot crusty bread.

If you are unable to find rakı, substitute arak, ouzo or Pernod.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped, white part only
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 small bulbs fennel, cored and sliced lengthwise
2 long red chillies, split lengthwise and seeded
2 1/2 tablespoons Seafood spice mix
1.5 litres Crab stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
16 mussels, scrubbed and bearded
4 red mullet, filleted
2 small calamari, cleaned
200g cooked chickpeas
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon raki
60g raw prawn meat
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely shredded, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or an enamelled pot and add the onion, leek, garlic, fennel and chillies. Add the spice mix, reserving a teaspoon. Sauté over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices. Add the stock and season with salt. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Skim from time to time.
  2. Meanwhile, discard any mussels that refuse to open after a sharp tap. Check the fish fillets for any lingering pin bones. Cut the calamari tentacles into short lengths. Split the tubes lengthwise and score the inside of each in a criss-cross pattern, then cut into quarters.
  3. Lightly dust the fish and calamari with the remaining spice mix. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan and splash in the rakı. Add the mussels, prawns, fish fillets and calamari, then increase the heat and cook, covered, for 3–4 minutes until the mussels begin to open.
  4. Serve immediately from the pan at the table, distributing the seafood, vegetables and broth between warmed bowls. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a little parsley to each bowl.
Middle Eastern
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