The saying goes that in Brittany, Bretons have a Celtic soul and a sailor’s heart. And that sailor’s heart is probably why they’re excellent fishermen and have wonderful seafood recipes. So here’s a traditional fish soup recipe from Brittany, called “Cotriade” to illustrate the point. It’s the Breton equivalent of a Bouillabaisse from Marseilles.
Traditional Cotriade, “Co-tree-odd” (or “kaoteriad” in the Breton Celtic language), is a recipe that dates back to the 1870s.
Traditionally, after a fishing expedition, each fisherman was offered a small percentage of the catch of the day, called the “godaille” or “cotriade,” to carry off in a small straw basket. Then he would often make a fish soup recipe from it.
The version I had in my photo below was made from monkfish, sea bream, mussels, and vegetables like potatoes, broccoli & tomatoes.
And all the ingredients were swimming in a butter sauce with “Bouquet Garni” herbs that the French do so well.
But you can use many other types of fish, (as you’ll see in the recipe below).
To make this fish soup recipe from Brittany you will need 1 pot, 1 colander, and 1 soup tureen or equivalent.
Cast iron pots are long-lasting, have good thermal density, and will cook your ingredients evenly.
A high-quality French cast iron pot I recommend is from Staub. Here are two sizes depending on your serving needs:
Preparation: 45 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.
Servings: 4 to 6
The fish :
- 500 g / 1.1 lbs conger
- 300 g / 3/4 lb of sea bream
- 200 g/ 7 oz of hake
- 4 to 6 sardines
- 2 or 3 soles
- 1 or 2 mackerel
- 1 or 2 gurnard
- (Optional) mussels
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs of potatoes
- 2 onions
- 2 large tomatoes
- 200 g / 7 oz salted butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 bunch of chervil
- Guérande salt or equivalent
The vinaigrette :
- 6 tablespoons of oil
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar
• Start by carefully scaling the fish and then washing them well.
• Cut them into pieces of about 5 cm/2 inches.
• Take a pot and brown your sliced onions with the salted butter.
• Then add your washed and peeled potatoes and stir them well in your butter and onion sauce. Add 3 L / 3 1/4 quarts of water.
• Add to that your chopped garlic, the garnished bouquets and chervil, the peeled and seeded tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
• When your potatoes are 3/4 cooked, it’s time to add your fish (conger, sea bream, and hake).
• Let them cook for about ten minutes and add the other fish.
• Cover again and cook for another 5 minutes after boiling again.
• You can now prepare your vinaigrette – whisk together the ingredients.
• Thoroughly drain the fish and potatoes. Filter your broth.
• Serve everything in a dish and sprinkle your fish and potatoes with a little broth, according to your taste. Then sprinkle with the vinaigrette.
You can also serve the vinaigrette in a gravy boat, so everyone can season individually their potatoes and fish. Or when you prepare the plates, you can add a spoonful of the dressing to each plate.
Add some garlic croutons and a few mussels to decorate your dish for even more flavor.
For a true Breton meal, accompany your dish with a glass of hard apple cider or white wine.
Bretons truly have a Celtic soul and a sailor’s heart. Their culture is linked closely to the sea and they’re excellent fishermen.
Good food, especially seafood, is an important part of their heritage.
“Magit mat ho korf, hoc’h ene a chomo pelloc’h e-barzh.”
“Nourish your body well, and your soul will remain with you longer.” (Proverb in the Breton language)
Also, Bouquet Garni herbs are part of my FREE French Pantry Checklist which you can download here.
And now you: Have you been to the Brittany region of France? Will you try this recipe? Let me know!
Photos: Personal photo of the author and lighthouse photo courtesy of Unsplash.com
Recipe: courtesy of http://www.recettes-bretonnes.fr/