Fish Broth and Fish Soup

imageTo make a really good fish soup you need to start with a really good fish broth. I like to use fish heads and frames, buy them from your fishmonger they are usually quite inexpensive. It’s really worth the small amount of effort to make fish broth and I generally make 4 to 5 litres at a time so there is plenty to freeze. imageI purchased these beautiful snapper heads and frames from Tasman Seafoods in Nelson, you can see how fresh they are by the clear eyes. I am using 4 large heads and frames which amounts to about 4.5 kgimageIngredients for the stock.

4 plus kg of fresh fish heads and frames, you can use any fresh wild fish. I am using snapper.

2 onions.

1 bunch of parsley or just parsley stems is fine.

2 sticks of celery.

Chop the vegetables, you can leave the skin on the onions, and put in a very large saucepan, then add your fish. As you can see my snapper would not fit even though this is a very large pan.imageBut I managed to squeeze it in, the lid would not go on properly but I knew that the frames would disintegrate quite quickly and then they would fit. Fill with water to cover the bones, or as full as you can. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Fish cooks down much quicker than beef or lamb bones and you will only need to simmer this stock for about 3 hours to get all the goodness and gelatin out of the bones.


I took the lid off after about 1 hour and this popped up, quite gross I know but press everything down under the water and continue to simmer and it will break up into unrecognisable bits very soon.imageLike this. Phew. Simmer for 3 hours total then strain into large bowls to cool. If you can be bothered you can sort through the bones and pull out any good bits of fish meat, the snapper cheeks are particularly good. You do have to be very careful about any stray fish scales that may be in the meat, this fish can be used either in the soup you will make from the broth or frozen and used for another purpose. imageHere you can see I have two nice large bowls of fish broth. I am going to keep the fat on this broth as it is only cooked for 3 hours so the fat is not denatured like the 24 hour beef and lamb broth. Also we all know how good fish oil is for us.imageOnce it has cooled transfer into containers for the freezer but leave a litre out to make your fish soup.imageIngredients for fish soup.

1 plus litres of fish broth.

2 lemons.

1 tin of chopped tomatoes.

1 tin of wild salmon. I like to use tinned wild salmon in this soup so that I get the added bennifit of the bones and skin but you can use any fish or shell fish you like.

1 sheet of Kombu seaweed. This is optional but seaweed adds lots of iodine and minerals to the soup.

a small handful of wakame seaweed.

1 dried chilli or equivalent in flakes.

1 very large thumb of fresh turmeric or 1 tablespoon of dried turmeric.

1 small thumb of fresh ginger.

3 cloves of garlic.

1 tablespoon of fish sauce. You need to get the fermented type with ingredients of just anchovies and salt.

If you are using the Kombu seaweed it needs simmering for about an hour to soften. Add one sheet to a small saucepan with plenty of water and simmer for 1 hour. The water and the seaweed really add to the flavour and nutrition of the soup. When it has softened chop the Kombu finely and make sure to keep the cooking liquid.imageWhile the Kombu is cooking prepare everything else, grate the turmeric, do not be scared of the large amount it is very mild in its fresh form and extremely nutritious. Grate the ginger, a much smaller amount or it will be too strong. Chop the chilli and peel and slice the garlic.imageThen add everything to a large saucepan along with the fish broth. I use everything from the can of salmon, including the skin, bones and juice, the bones are soft and perfectly edible and full of calcium as is the liquid and skin. If it bothers you to eat the bones then you can use fresh white fish in your soup or indeed any other seafood you like. The whole can of tomatoes plus it’s juice goes in, plus all the seaweeds and spices, the juice from both lemons and the fish sauce.image This only needs about 10 – 15 minutes cooking, just long enough to soften everything. The soup will probably not need any salt as the fish sauce is very salty and if you feel it needs a bit more salt just add an extra teaspoon or 2 of fish sauce. Garnish with some spring onions

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