Just to get things straight: fish soup was one of the things I definitely didn’t like. There aren’t many things I don’t like, but fish soup was for sure at the top of that short list. I always thought fish soup is one of those acquired tastes, something you have to try over and over before you start appreciating its taste: like olives, for example (which I adore).
My aunt was sure to change my mind with her famous fish soup, that according to her, everybody loves. She apparently convinced other fish soup deniers with this particular soup. I was willing to give it a try but I was disappointed. I liked that just as much as all the other fish soups before: not at all!
Than a few months ago, we were invited to dinner by some friends. As we got there, we were told that fish soup was the main dish on the menu. I panicked in a second and spent the whole time before dinner, thinking about a way of skipping the soup without being impolite. I couldn’t find a way to get out of it, so I did have to eat the soup. And I liked it, loved it. I was so happy about it, that I immediately asked how it was made so I could make it myself at home. I wasn’t really been given a recipe, but more of a brief description of the way it was cooked.
During the past months I tried several versions of this soup. I liked them all but this particular version of the soup was our favorite. I used pollock filets, because that is what I had in the freezer, but feel free to use other fish filets instead. The original recipe was made with salmon and that was great, of course.
And after some thinking about fish soup, I reached the conclusion, that I actually like this soup because it isn’t very fishy. Other fish soups, like my aunt’s, are made with fish stock. She cooks various leftover fish parts, like heads and bones and stuff and cooks the vegetables and the better parts of the fish in this broth. I assume that that is what I don’t like, this overpowering, somehow sweetly fish taste.
I use vegetable stock instead, a lot of veggies and not very much fish, that only gets poached in the broth for a few minutes. You still get the fish taste but not so aggressively, it is there, it is nice and it doesn’t try to overwhelm your taste buds with its fishiness (can you actually say fishiness when you mean the taste of fish?)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz lean dry-cured ham
- 2 carrots
- 2 medium potatoes or 1 larger
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 thin leek
- 1 liter/ about 4 cups vegetable stock
- 175 ml/ ¾ cup heavy cream
- 120 ml/ ½ cup milk
- 300 g/ 10.5 oz pollack filet (or other fish filet)
- salt and pepper
- some fresh lemon juice
- Chop the garlic, onion and ham very finely. Heat the olive oil and cook the onions and ham until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring often.
- Chop the carrots, potatoes and bell pepper into small pieces. Cut the leek into thin rings. Add them to the pot and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times in between.
- Add the vegetable stock, bring everything to a boil and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime cut the fish filets into bite-sized pieces.
- When the vegetables are soft, add the fish, heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Check the fish and take care not to overcook it.
- Adjust the taste with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve immediately with baguette.