Introduction: Fisherman’s Soup

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I have been shown how to make a simple fish soup by my mom last summer. We bought a few sea breams for the barbecue and while they had been gutted and cleaned in the supermarket they still had the heads on (normally we wouldn’t buy them with heads) which was apparently a good thing according to my mom. She said she would make a fast fish soup. And so she did. And it was delicious!

So since then every time I buy fresh fish I want the heads too so I can make the soup. I think you get a good deal out of it (two for the price of one, right?) considering you cook the soup and you still have the rest for BBQ.

So I had checked a few recipes on the Internet and then I was going to cook Halaszle – a typical Hungarian soup made of Carp and some other fresh water fish but then I changed my mind. I figured it wouldn’t be the real deal without a carp and also I didn’t know which one of the many recipes was the authentic one as I haven’t tasted the real deal yet!

So for now I am making my mom’s version with my input. Like I’ve said I am using fish heads only as it is a way how not to waste any part of the fish. If you fancy putting a whole fish fillet it, feel free to do it. You can also freeze the heads if you don’t have enough right away and make the soup some other time when you gather more fish.

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Step 1: Ingredients:

At least 4-5 Sea Bream Heads (or any fish available, also the more heads the stronger the flavours)

2 Tablespoons Paprika

1 Small Onion

A Pinch of Pepper

Salt to taste

A Few Sprigs of Parsley

1 Large Tomato, skinned

1 Green Pepper

2-3 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil

Makes: 4 portions

Time: Cooking 40 minutes

Step 2: Method:

Bring a sauce pan of water (about 1 liter) to boil and drop in fish heads. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 10 -15 minutes. When the fish meat is tender, take out the heads and let them cool down. Keep the fish stock for later. Put the oil in in a large pot. Add finely diced onion and green pepper (sliced or diced) and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the paprika and sauté for a minute or two.

Now through a fine sieve pour in the fish stock (making sure any bones won’t get into your soup), add diced tomato, cooked fish meat (see NOTE below) pour in more water and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.


The heads that have been taken out previously have some meat on them – not much but still, no point to wasting it. I put this meat back in to the soup. However, be careful as there are bones which need to be taken out beforehand. So if you don’t feel comfortable deboning the heads I’d rather leave it. It’s not worth the risk for some small pieces.

At last throw in finely chopped parsley and serve with bread.

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