North Sea Fish, Elixir d’Anvers, Fennel, Rye Toast, Belgian Saffron

Seppe Nobels - Graanmarkt 13
  • 2 kg heads and bones of North Sea fish without gills
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red Bell pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 fennel for the soup
  • 2 fennels to candy
  • ½ celery
  • 1 leek, only the white part
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 2 l vegetable stock
  • 10 cl Elixir d’Anvers for the soup
  • 5 cl Elixir d’Anvers for the rouille
  • 1 clove garlic for the soup
  • 1 clove garlic for the rouille
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1.5 dl olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 6 saffron threads (preferably Belgian saffron)
  • 1 sprig dill
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 laurel leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • pepper and salt
  • fleur de sel
  • 1 loaf rye bread


Candied fennel

Preheat the oven to 165°C. Cut the fronds from the fennel, remove the two hard outer lobes and cut into 8 equal chunks. Put the chunks in an ovenproof dish. Peel off large slices of lemon, lime and orange using a speed peeler. Scatter them over the fennel bulbs. Add star anise, juniper berries and cloves. Cover with thyme and laurel leaves. Season to taste with fleur de sel and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the ovenproof dish with tin foil and place in the oven for 70 minutes.


Colour the fish bones and heads in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, together with the roughly sliced leek, celery, Bell pepper, tomato, onion, fennel and garlic until half cooked. Flambé with the Elixir d’Anvers. Quench with the vegetable stock, leave to simmer over a low heat for 1 hour, mix with a hand blender and pour through a coarse sieve.


Boil the peeled potatoes only just immersing them in salted water, add the saffron and the clove of garlic; boil them until they are done and half of the water has evaporated. Leave to cool and purée with the remainder of the olive oil, the tomato purée and the Elixir d’Anvers. Season to taste with pepper and salt.


Cut the rye bread into wafer thin slices, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fleur de sel. Put them between 2 sheets of baking paper on a baking tray and cover with a weight for the slices to bake without curling and for a crunchy finish. Place in the oven at 185°C for 9 minutes.


Put the candied fennels in a soup plate together with the toast and the rouille. Finish with a sprig of dill and serve with the hot fish soup.