Fish stew with roast garlic & saffron

Healthy dinner party recipe for 6 people, takes only 45 mins; recipe has garlic, olive oil, sea salt, pernod, saffron, fennel bulb, celery, onion, red chilli, olive oil, garlic clove, fennel seed, saffron, bay leaf, pernod, white wine, passata, grey mullet, gurnard, squid, lemon, flat leaf parsley and baguette.

Fish stew with roast garlic & saffron

Fish stew with roast garlic & saffron

Recipe by Chef Soomro Course: Healthy dinner party


Prep time

20 mins


  • Flat Leaf Parsley: 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
  • Garlic Clove: 4 garlic cloves
  • Red Chilli: 1 red chilli, seeds left in
  • Olive Oil: 150ml good olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Onion: 1 onion
  • Lemon: juice 1 lemon
  • Bay Leaf: 2 bay leaves
  • Passata: 750ml passata
  • Baguette: toasted slices of baguette, to serve
  • Celery: 4 celery sticks
  • Saffron: good pinch of saffron strands
  • Fennel Bulb: 1 fennel bulb
  • White Wine: 200ml white wine
  • Sea Salt: few good pinches of flaky sea salt
  • Squid: 200g prepared squid and tentacles, cleaned and cut into rings
  • Fennel Seed: 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Garlic: 3 whole heads garlic
  • Pernod: 50ml Pernod
  • Grey Mullet: 3 grey mullet fillets (about 500g in total), skin on, cut into large chunks
  • Gurnard: 300g gurnard fillets, skin on, cut into large chunks


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. To make the saffron and garlic paste, cut the whole heads of garlic in half horizontally. Place the garlic heads, cut-side up, on a small baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt. Cover with foil and bake for 40-50 mins until softened. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15-20 mins until the garlic has turned golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, make the soup base. Chop the fennel, celery and onion into small dice and thinly slice the red chilli. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped vegetables. Grate the garlic into the pan and add the fennel seeds. Stir well, then cover and sweat for 10 mins. Add the saffron and bay leaves, and cook for a further 10 mins until the vegetables start to soften. Pour in the Pernod and wine, bring to the boil, then add the passata and 400ml water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 mins until all of the flavours have started to work together, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool a little.
  3. Transfer the soup to a jug blender and blend until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan - you may need to do this in batches. If the soup needs thickening, reduce over a medium heat. When it is the consistency of pouring cream, remove from the heat and set aside, or leave to cool and chill in the fridge until needed. The base of the soup can be made 3 days ahead.
  4. Meanwhile, for the paste, pour the Pernod into a small saucepan and add the saffron. Bring to the boil, add the olive oil and warm gently. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
  5. When the garlic is golden brown, remove the tray from the oven and squeeze the cloves out into the bowl of a pestle and mortar. Add a large pinch of flaky sea salt and pound to a paste. Slowly add the saffron-infused olive oil, stirring constantly. Transfer to a clean container and chill until needed.
  6. Bring the soup base to the boil in a large pan, then turn down to a light simmer and taste for seasoning. Add the chunks of prepared fish and squid, and gently poach the fish in the soup for 10 mins, or until it is just cooked. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls, piling up the fish in the centre. Spoon on the saffron and garlic paste and sprinkle over some more parsley. Serve with toasted slices of baguette and the extra saffron and garlic paste on the side.