Fish Soup

I have been wanting to make a type of fish soup or stew for some time now and have finally got round to it. What a triumph! Sooo satisfying and delicious, I think it will definitely become a fast favourite. It's based on a Greek fishermens' stew, traditionally made out at sea with fresh catch of the day and sea water. The best fish to use is fresh white fish and, for a little extra specialness you can combine this with seafood and scallops. I decided to use pollock and plaice, both are firm white fish with large flakes and have the right amount of flavour to stand up to the other ingredients. Fresh and vibrant, this dish of the sea will also develop in flavour if left to settle for a few hours too.

The other day I bought a whole sea bass, filleted it and then went onto making fish stock with the remaining head and bones. It was surprisingly simple to make and I have been able to use it for all sorts of things. It gives this soup added depth and richness that I feel a vegetable stock can't quite deliver. If you do make it, a good way to store it, is by freezing it in an ice tray for later use or it will keep in the fridge for a week. You can also use a good fresh shop bought stock. 


For the stock:
1 carrot
1 leek
3 sticks celery
1 bulb fresh fennel
A few pepper corns
splash of white wine
Fish head(s), skeleton, tails etc. (avoid using oily fish)

Roughly chop vegetables and put them into a large saucepan or stock pot. Rinse fish bits well under running water and remove gills from the head(s). Put into the pan with the vegetables, add the wine, peppercorns and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, removing any scum that forms on the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, removing any extra scum occasionally. Strain liquid into another pot and use immediately or when cool, refrigerate or freeze until needed.  

For the stew:
1 onion, sliced
2/3 stick of celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Half a tsp fennel seeds
4-6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 Lt fish stock
Juice of one lemon
Handful of flat leaf parsley
Handful of dill
4/5 small potatoes, chopped into chunks
500g white fish, skinned, deboned and cut into good sized pieces
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

In a heavy saucepan, saute onion, celery, garlic and fennel seeds in some olive oil. Allow to soften but not brown. Add potatoes, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add fish pieces and bring to the boil again. Cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes until fish is soft and flaky. Add lemon juice and season to taste. It should have a good balance of salt and acidity. Finely chop the parsley and dill and add to the pot. Stir together. Serve piping hot with a drizzle of olive oil and hunks of fresh crusty bread.

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