Greek fish soup

Greek fish soup


A la Grecque
Mark Roper

My mother-in-law, Yiayia, could never believe that Australians would waste the head of a fish. To her it was a delicacy and the meat in the cheek cavities was prized for being especially soft, silky and sweet. She would make soup for the whole family whenever she could procure a snapper head. From her I learned that the secret to a great fish soup is in making a vegetable stock first, then adding the fish head and only cooking it for twenty minutes. This way the flavour from the fish is imparted and the flesh stays moist and delicious.

You can also use this recipe to make a basic fish stock. Just strain and discard the vegetables and fish and keep the liquid for a stock.


Quantity Ingredient
1 large snapper head
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 onions, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 leek, sliced and well washed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 stalks parsley
180ml olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced


  1. Wash the snapper head well. Make sure that the gills have been completely removed and that there is no blood remaining in the spinal cavity. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.
  2. Place the vegetables, garlic and parsley in a saucepan that is large enough to fit the whole snapper head. Cover generously with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until the potato and carrot are nearly cooked.
  3. Increase the heat and add the olive oil to the pan. Boil rapidly for about 5 minutes, so that soup becomes milky and opaque. Lift some of the vegetables out of the stock and transfer them to a large soup tureen or individual serving bowls.
  4. Add the snapper head to the saucepan. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Lift the snapper head out of the soup and place it on a large platter. Pick out the meat from the cheek cavities and add it to the vegetables in the tureen or distribute it among the individual bowls.
  6. Season the soup with pepper and add lemon juice to taste. You may strain it if you wish as sometimes there are a few scales left behind. Pour the hot soup over the vegetables and fish and serve immediately.
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