Bargeman’s Cod and Leek Soup

This is an online extra for Barging Down the Seine, which appeared in the October 2002 issue.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 shallots or 1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (more to taste)
2 leeks, chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 can chicken broth
Water to cover
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chervil (optional)
1 pound cod fillets, chopped
1 cup cream or evaporated milk

In a large soup pot, saute shallots or onions and garlic until translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and just enough water to cover ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, and chervil. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer about 30 minutes, until the mixture is reduced a little. The leeks get sweeter as they cook; when they taste right, add the fish and simmer for another 30 minutes or so, until the fish flakes easily. The soup will continue to reduce to a thick consistency. Add cream and heat through, then serve while piping hot.