Incredibly tasty and nourishing, this aptly named soup will be a regular in your cooking repertoire. The egg that is poached in the broth resembles an eye, ergo the name of the dish. The Bouillabaisse is perfect for formal or informal occasions. This is a vegetarian version, for those who include eggs in their diet. Otherwise, omit the egg. and it's still delicious.
Peel the onion and dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Wash & trim the celery stalks and slice on the diagonal. Halve the potatoes lengthwise if using larger potatoes or leave whole if using smaller fingerlings. Slice the potatoes about 1/8 inch thick.
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables begin to soften and become translucent, add the tomatoes, water or stock, saffron, bay leaves, salt and pepper and raise the heat to medium.
When the mixture begins to simmer, add the potatoes and stir gently. The liquid should just cover the potatoes. Add a little more water or stock if necessary.
Return to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook for about 30 minutes on a low simmer or until the potatoes are barely fork tender. Stir in the fennel pollen. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Using a ladle, create four "hollows" among the vegetables, each large enough to accommodate an egg. Gently break an egg into each hollow. Cover the pot again, leaving the lid slightly ajar.
Poach the eggs for 6 -8 minutes or until the whites are just set and the yolks are still loose.
Gently lift each poached egg from the soup and place it in the middle of a bowl. Carefully ladle soup around the egg. Serve with hot toasted bread rubbed with a raw garlic clove.