This fish soup recipe makes a flavorful homemade sopa de pescado, one of those dishes that we can eat any month of the year, regardless of the weather. Frugal, comforting, filling, and surprisingly healthful, this is one of my favorite soups and now you can enjoy it too.
Why we ❤️ it
A steaming bowl of sopa de pescado (fish head soup) is supposed to "raise the dead", in the word of Dominican grandmas, and -according to old wives- it improved the "animos" (energy), helps in the quick recovery of lost strength, and restores the proper functioning of the female organs; and who knows what many other things.
Old wives' tales aside, this is deservedly one of my favorite fish recipes.
Type of fish to use
If I had been completely honest, I should have called this recipe sopa de cabeza de pescado (fish head soup), because that was what the original soup was. Traditionally this soup is made with fish from grouper, or chillo, for example, as it is the most economical, but other fish heads could be used, like bass, and red snapper.
Other choices, if you can't find those above are bass, halibut, fresh cod, or trout. If you do not want to use fish heads, you can use fillet only, in which case you do not need to strain the soup as instructed in the recipe.
Fish head soup (sopa de pescado).
Generally, this soup is served alone. At most, we may serve some avocado slices with it (because we eat avocado with anything). At home, we may serve some warm rustic bread, but 9 times out of ten this recipe needs nothing else.
While there are no two Dominicans that make fish head soup the same way, you may find that some may add onion to it (I find it overpowering). Some people may add some celery stalks chopped, or perhaps a bay leaf (to be removed before serving).
I have never seen this soup with noodles, but it wouldn't surprise me if some people made it that way (let me know in the comments!).
About our recipe
Mami made this soup - as you have already deduced - with fish heads. The long cooking and the fish heads gave a lot of taste to the soup. No matter how much I try --I do not know if it is nostalgia or that my sense of taste does not lie to me-- without the heads, it is not the same. If you dare and are not afraid to use unusual ingredients, I give you in the recipe notes instructions to make my mother's authentic soup, and if not, then the uncomplicated modern version is also very good.
If you have a different way how to make this caldo de pescado, I would love to hear it, let us know in the comments.
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[Recipe + Video] Sopa de Pescado (Fish Soup)
- 1 ½ pound fish heads, [0.7 kg]
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 cup auyama (kabocha squash), (West Indian pumpkin or kabocha squash), diced, divided
- 2 sprigs of cilantro, or parsley
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 pound fish fillet, [0.45 k] cut into small pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground), (or to taste)
- In a deep pot mix the fish head (see notes), olive oil, lime juice, garlic cloves, and half of the auyama. Pour in 2.5 quarts [2.5 liters] of water. Boil covered over medium-high heat until the auyama has dissolved and heads are cooked and flaky (25 to 35 minutes).Remove from the heat and sieve to discard the solids. You can return any large pieces of cheek meat to the broth if you wish to dig it out.
- Return the broth to the pot. Add cilantro, carrots, potato, and remaining auyama. Cook covered over medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- Add the fish fillet to the pot and cook until it is cooked through (5-10 minutes). In the end, you should have about half the liquid you started with, if it's too little, add some more water and heat through, if it's too much, simmer some more to reduce it. This is not a thick soup, the liquid has the consistency of broth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and serve hot.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
For this soup is preferable to use white meat fish, like snapper, grouper, or bass. If you cannot find any of these, a salmon head can be used, although the taste will differ.
The cheek. meat may be returned to the soup, but for the most part, bones and other solids are discarded.
Other Latino fish soups
- Try this Ecuadorian Biche by Laylita.
- Or this Colombian Sopa de Pescado Recipe.
Published Dec 20, 2003, revised