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The Best Fish Soup Recipe - French-Style

Updated on March 16, 2016
nifwlseirff profile image

Kymberly loves to cook, bake and preserve. She'd love more time to experiment in the kitchen and come up with delicious (healthy) recipes!

This is a fantastic soup, although I'd call it almost a stew, packed with vegetables, flavors, spices, herbs and vitamins.

My version was inspired by the French bouillabaisse and Cioppino, an San Franciscan Italian-American dish, developed by Portuguese and Italian fishermen.

It's even a good fish dish for picky eaters! I don't particularly like the taste of fish, so for me, fishiness needs to be hidden behind complex, strong flavors, and paired with a lot of other tasty vegetables or fruit.

It is budget friendly, very healthy, and makes regular appearances in my household. It's even better heated up the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to blend.

The soup freezes well - perfect for when I am too busy or can't be bothered cooking.

French-style fish soup, served with extra parsley
French-style fish soup, served with extra parsley | Source
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 bowl
Calories 236
Calories from Fat54
% Daily Value *
Fat 6 g9%
Saturated fat 1 g5%
Unsaturated fat 5 g
Carbohydrates 29 g10%
Sugar 10 g
Fiber 9 g36%
Protein 20 g40%
Cholesterol 51 mg17%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

A very healthy, versatile soup

The colors, vitamins and fish oils are natural anti-depressants, making this a good meal when feeling down or upset.

The spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, helping in times of illness.

Tips

  • You can use any type of fish or seafood in this soup, and even combine different types for an interesting mixture of flavors.
  • Fresh or frozen fish work equally well.
  • This soup is great for using up left-over veggies before the next shopping trip!
  • You can use any fresh or dried herbs. Replace any in the recipe that you don't like with ones that you do.
  • Change the quantities of the herbs and spices to suit your taste!

Vitamins and minerals in ONE serving of this fish soup

Vitamins
% Daily intake
Minerals
% Daily Intake
Fatty acids
Vitamin A
62
Calcium
10
Omega-3
Vitamin C
133
Iron
23
1,450 mg
Vitamin E
7
Magnesium
21
 
Vitamin K
35
Phosphorus
15
Omega-6
Thiamin
18
Potassium
27
670mg
Riboflavin
17
Sodium
68
 
Niacin
26
Zinc
12
 
Vitamin B6
37
Copper
15
 
Folate
17
Manganese
31
 
Vitamin B12
14
Selenium
24
 
Ingredients for the fish soup before chopping. Less than half of the herbs/spices are shown.
Ingredients for the fish soup before chopping. Less than half of the herbs/spices are shown. | Source
5 stars from 2 ratings of French-style fish soup

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: 8 servings

Notes

  • The ingredients list may look intimidating and long, but most are herbs/spices.
  • The quantities of herbs and spices are given as a rough guideline only. If you want a less herby-spicy soup, reduce the quantities.
  • You can add other herbs and spices, and different vegetables - this is a very flexible soup!

Summary of instructions

  1. Prepare all ingredients - chop fish and vegetables, mince garlic and ginger, zest and juice the lemon.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add sesame and mustard seeds and toast for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add onions, garlic and ginger, sauté until translucent.
  4. Add fish, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add chopped vegetables.
  6. Add remaining herbs and spices to taste, stir and heat through.
  7. Add tomato puree or crushed tomatoes.
  8. Simmer, covered, for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.
  9. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 fish fillets, de-boned and diced
  • 800ml / 2 cans tomato puree, (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cm / 1 in ginger root, minced or finely grated
  • 1 cucumber, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 red / orange bell peppers (capsicum), diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 250 g / 4-5 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lemon or lime, zest and juice
  • 1 Tablespoon each of sesame seeds, mustard seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each of dill, basil, organo, majoram, thyme
  • 0.5 teaspoons each of tumeric, nutmeg, black pepper
  • 0.25 teaspoon cayenne pepper and/or crushed chilli pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fish soup ingredients, after chopping.De-seeding cucumbers -- the seeds can become bitter when cooked.Chopped vegetables - colorful!Lemon zest with the best Microplane grater.
Fish soup ingredients, after chopping.
Fish soup ingredients, after chopping. | Source
De-seeding cucumbers -- the seeds can become bitter when cooked.
De-seeding cucumbers -- the seeds can become bitter when cooked. | Source
Chopped vegetables - colorful!
Chopped vegetables - colorful! | Source
Lemon zest with the best Microplane grater.
Lemon zest with the best Microplane grater. | Source

Detailed instructions

1. Prepare the ingredients

  • Chop 4-5 fillets of fish, any variety, into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Finely dice the onions and mince the garlic. Use a fine grater or mince the ginger.
  • Dice the cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. De-seed the cucumbers (discard the seeds), then dice. Finely dice the fennel bulb.
  • Zest the lemon or lime, then juice.

    Tip: I find that the fine microplane graters to be the best at keeping the flavor of the zest.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Toasting the seeds in a little oil.Onions, garlic and ginger, added to the toasted seeds.Fish and herbs added.Vegetables added.
Toasting the seeds in a little oil.
Toasting the seeds in a little oil. | Source
Onions, garlic and ginger, added to the toasted seeds.
Onions, garlic and ginger, added to the toasted seeds. | Source
Fish and herbs added.
Fish and herbs added. | Source
Vegetables added.
Vegetables added. | Source

2. Toast the seeds

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat, then toast the sesame and mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes.

Tip: Cumin and fennel seeds add an interesting crunch and a bit of aniseed flavor - add them when toasting the other seeds if you want to use them.

3. Add the chopped ingredients

  • Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook until golden and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the fish to the pan, toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until the fish is no longer raw, and the mixture is hot.

    I like to add the herbs at this stage, but they can wait until the spices are added.
  • Add all of the vegetables and stir gently, taking care not to break apart the fish. Cook until the mixture is heated through.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Adding the spices to the fish soup ingredients.Spices mixed through the fish soup ingredients.Oregano seedlings, slowly growing in my balcony garden.Fresh thyme, growing in my balcony garden.After the tomato puree has been added to the soup.
Adding the spices to the fish soup ingredients.
Adding the spices to the fish soup ingredients. | Source
Spices mixed through the fish soup ingredients.
Spices mixed through the fish soup ingredients. | Source
Oregano seedlings, slowly growing in my balcony garden.
Oregano seedlings, slowly growing in my balcony garden. | Source
Fresh thyme, growing in my balcony garden.
Fresh thyme, growing in my balcony garden. | Source
After the tomato puree has been added to the soup.
After the tomato puree has been added to the soup. | Source

4. Add the herbs and spices

My favorite part! Add all of the herbs and spices and stir gently to combine.

Tips

  • If you don't like a herb or spice, don't use it or reduce the quantity. If you have other herbs and spices that you like to use, please add them!
  • Fresh herbs add a much brighter, spring-like taste, especially when home-grown and picked immediately before using. Plant a windowsill or balcony garden with fresh herbs - save money on dried herbs and have superior, home-grown ingredients at the tip of your scissors.
  • Use double the amount of fresh herbs than dried as the flavor of fresh herbs is weaker.

Where are these fish soups and fish stews from?

5. Cook the soup

Add the pureed or crushed tomatoes, stir and bring the mixture to a good simmer.

Simmer while covered, on a low-medium heat for an hour or so, until the flavors have blended together nicely. Stir every now and again, to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Add more herbs and spices when tasting the soup during the cooking, if you want.

If the soup is too thick, feel free to add a little vegetable or fish stock. As the tomatoes and other vegetables cook they will release their water into the soup.

6. Serve

Serve hot, sprinkled with herbs and freshly ground black pepper.

Pair with a crusty fresh bread - olive baguettes work especially well.

For a gourmet meal or dinner party, toast slices of brie or camembert cheese on baguette slices.

If you are re-heating the soup, use the stove top, and stir gently. The flavors are better than when they are heated in the microwave.

French-inspired fish soup, perfect with a crusty olive baguette!
French-inspired fish soup, perfect with a crusty olive baguette! | Source

What are your favorite herbs and spices to use in soups?

Let us know in the comments below!

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    • kgala0405 profile image

      Kevin Galarneau 4 years ago from Michigan

      I just printed this off and plan to make it tonight. This looks like a really healthy option packed with protein. Looking forward to trying this.

    • Keith Ham profile image

      Keith Ham 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, Ontario

      Thanks! Fish is such a hard thing to work with.

    • kgala0405 profile image

      Kevin Galarneau 4 years ago from Michigan

      Made this, but made a few changes. Like you mentioned in the hub this is a really flexible recipe. I enjoyed it a lot and plan to make again. My friends loved it as well. It's a light enough soup that you can get away with serving soup on these blazing hot days.

    • nifwlseirff profile image
      Author

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Keith - no problems, I hope you enjoy it!

      Kevin - I'm so glad it was a hit! It's a great recipe for using up bits and bobs of things - for some reason I always love emptying my stores of spices/herbs! Thank you!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 4 years ago from Yorkshire

      nifwlseirff.

      this great recipe really sounds mouthwateringly yummy. I enjoy a good soup especially with home made bread. Your pictures are really well organised and helpful. I particularly like the way you toast your spices; what a shame people don't do this, always for curries and anything with spices I toast them, it makes a difference to the final taste.

      We eat lots of fish, such as red snapper, pollack and yesterday barramundi, wow it was fantastic.

      with respect

      Tony

      ps I'm on a mission to look at all past and present followers, wish me look.

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