Bouillabaisse with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and Croutons

Serves 4-6 Bouillabaisse

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 small fennel bulb
1 small onion
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons sambuca
2 cups water
1 cup chicken stock
2 pinches saffron
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound shrimp, shells reserved
1/2 pound white fish (hake was on sale, so I grabbed that)
1/2 pound scallops
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 in slices–make 6 pieces
olive oil for brushing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 roasted red pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely diced and smashed with salt into a paste
dash cayenne pepper

Instructions 

Prep vegetables: remove core and tops from fennel. Reserve some of the fronds. Reserve core and tops for broth. Chop fennel. Dice onion, reserving skin and roots. Split and thinly slice leeks–white and light green parts only, reserving roots and dark green tops. Smash both cloves garlic, finely chopping one clove, reserving other clove and skins for broth.

Make the broth: Heat 1/2 olive oil and butter over medium heat in saucepan or soup pot. Stir in fennel core and tops, and onion, leek and garlic reserves. Saute for 2 minutes, do not brown. Pour in 2 tablespoons sambuca. Simmer for 5 minutes until nearly evaporated. Add water, chicken stock, and 1 pinch of saffron, and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Then add shrimp shells and simmer (do not boil) for 10 minutes. Drain stock through a sieve and cheesecloth.

Make the croutons and aioli: Brush baguette with olive oil and bake in 350 degree oven until crisp–approximately 10 minutes. Chop red pepper in a food processor. Add garlic paste, cayenne, and mayonnaise and puree until smooth. Chill aioli.

Make soup: Heat remaining butter and olive oil in saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped fennel, leeks and onions and cook without browning for 10 minutes until very tender. Add diced tomatoes and remaining sambuca and cook until nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Add wine, stock, and 1 pinch saffron and allow to cook down slightly simmering for 10 minutes. Add seafood and fish and cook for 5 minutes, just until cooked through.

Serve: Spread aioli on croutons. Ladle fish, seafood and broth into wide bowls. Top with 3 croutons and reserved fennel fronds for garnish.