a favorite FISH SOUP recipe

Recently my sister and husband returned from a visit to Sweden and raved about a fish soup they enjoyed while there. Each time the soup showed up on a menu, they ordered. Turns out there were as many variations as we found for ‘tiramisu’ while traveling through northern Italy several years ago. My Mother-in-Law also had her version of fish soup, often served on Fridays. Here is my version, adapted from Mrs. Anderson as well as others I have come across. I adore this soup. Adding a green salad with cucumber, radish, scallions or red onion and good crusty bread creates a whole meal. You can follow with your favorite desert, pudding or pie.


¾ lb. to 1 lb. swordfish or similar solid fish – cut into 1 inch or less pieces (my sister uses   salmon)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced ¼” thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock (or fish stock if available)
1 cup Half and Half (or heavy cream)
1 cup dry white wine* (not so called cooking wine!)
1 cup or less water – you can always add more if the soup is too thick
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried (but really there is no substitute for fresh dill for flavor!)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste (I buy it in the tube so it’s easy to use just one tablespoon)
2 pinches of saffron if you have it
Salt and pepper to taste (depending on whether you used salted butter and salted chicken stock)
4 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cubed to ½” size more or less*


  1. Melt the butter in a soup stock pot or other heavy bottomed saucepan large enough to easily hold 2 quarts
  2. Add sliced leek, chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and leek is limp – approximately 6 minutes
  3. Add tomato paste and fresh herbs you are using – stir to incorporate all
  4. Add all liquids (stock, wine, cream) and saffron – bring to a simmer
  5. Add cubed potato – bring back to a gentle boil until potatoes are not quite fork tender *
  6. Add fish cubes – bring back to simmer for approximately 5 minutes
  7. Taste and add salt and pepper as required
  8. Add sour cream or crème fraiche but do not let soup boil again
  9. To serve, place 1 tsp. sour cream with a sprinkling of fresh chopped dill on each serving or for a stronger flavor, add a dollop of pesto now available in all supermarkets

*several recipes call for cooking the cubed potatoes separately in salted water until fork tender and adding them to the soup after the fish is cooked. I have used both methods and prefer my lazy method in the directions above, BUT, I really have to pay attention so the potatoes don’t get too soft before adding the fish. Some people leave out the wine and substitute either more broth or water; personally, I think the wine adds a lot of flavor and the alcohol cooks off during the boiling process.

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