When you’re making a fish soup, the broth is everything. There’s always good fish soup on the Amalfi Coast, where each town has a slightly different version. This is my own Hell’s Kitchen version, intensely flavorful and complex—this is not zuppa for the faint of heart.
I use the sweeter imported canned tomatoes with the DOC label on them. (In 1955, Italy enacted DOC laws to safeguard the names, characteristics, and origins of certain Italian foods.) Don’t be afraid to use oilier fish in your zuppe, like mackerel and monkfish, which lend tons of flavor. If you use shrimp, leave them in the shell or else they’ll dry out. The anise liqueur adds an interesting licorice flavor. Prepare the broth the day before, to make it easier on yourself, and to allow the broth’s flavor to intensify.–David Pasternack
LC Italian Style Note
While this recipe is a classic, it’s eminently variable and can accommodate any manner of shellfish, such as mussels or clams, as well as the addition of olives or the substitution—within reason—of various aromatics and spirits. We consider this approach to cooking Italian style.
Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, fennel, leek, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add the fresh tomatoes and continue cooking until they begin to break down, about 10 minutes.
Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, wine, Ricard, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over a high flame, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down substantially, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently throughout.
Add the fish bones and enough water so that the bones are covered. Stir while the stock simmers for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Before using, skim the surface of any impurities that rise to the top.
Reheat the zuppa in a stock pot over a medium flame until gently simmering. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fish pieces and cook for about 6 minutes; the fish should be well cooked and flaky. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Add the chopped parsley just before serving, and drizzle with a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.