- Cut the fish into approximately 2-inch pieces, reserving the bones for the stock. Set the pieces of fish aside, covered and refrigerated, until ready to serve. (If you can't find fish on the bone, ask the fishmonger for 8 ounces of assorted fish bones, preferably not salmon bones. If no other bones are available, use a small, whole fish, chopped, for the stock.)
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Wait 10 seconds, then add the fish bones, garlic cloves, fennel seeds, bouquet garni, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and sweat the mixture without letting it brown, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, Pernod, canned tomatoes with all the their juices, paprika, and 3 quarts of water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, partially cover the pan and regulate the heat to maintain a slow simmer for 45 minutes. Retrieve and discard the fish bones and the bouquet garni, then use an immersion blender to puree the liquid. Don't worry if it is not perfectly smooth. (Or, pass the liquid through the coarse disk of a food mill and return to the pan.)
- Add the fennel wedges, cover the pan, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and paprika as necessary. At this point, the dish may be set aside for several hours, or cooled to room temperature and refrigerated overnight, before finishing the dish.
- Bring the broth back to a gentle simmer and add the fish pieces. Simmer the soup gently for 5 minutes, to cook the fish. Ladle into wide, warmed bowls, distributing the fish, fennel wedges, and broth evenly.
- TO SERVE: Place a nice dollop of saffron aioli in the center of each bowl and scatter a little orange zest and chopped fennel greens over the top. Serve at once, with a slice of toasted bread on the side.
- SAFFRON AIOLI RECIPE:
- In a small bowl, soak the saffron threads in the warm water for 20 minutes. In a deep bowl, combine the egg yolks, garlic, and salt, and whisk to combine. Very slowly, dribble in the olive oil, whisking all the time. You can add the oil a bit more quickly after about half has been absorbed, but go very slowly at first or the mayonnaise may "break."
- Add the saffron and its soaking water, then use the lemon juice to swirl around in the saffron-soaking bowl to catch any remaining saffron essence. Whisk the lemon juice into the aioli. Add a few grinds of pepper. The aioli should be made at least 4 hours before using, and will keep, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours.