Fish soup, my classic way

Fish soup, my classic way

Scandinavian Comfort Food
Columbus Leth

This recipe recalls a time that no longer exists. In Scandinavia, famous artists would go to seaside hotels for fresh air and a change of scenery and society; the bourgeoisie and nouveau riche needed a break from city life. In those times when we lived more according to Proust, a fish soup like this would be served. Good fish soup always starts with a stock, which takes a little time to prepare, so a recipe like this is good for a dinner party, with the reward in the taste.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
500g clams, preferably Venus clams
10 langoustines
400g white fish
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
200g celeriac, diced
2 tablespoons plain flour
200ml dry white wine
2 litres hot fish stock
200ml double cream
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
50g dill, chopped

Fish stock

Quantity Ingredient
2kg fish bones
4 garlic cloves
2 onions
1 fennel bulb
1 leek, with green tops
1 carrot
a few parsley sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt


  1. Place the saffron in a small bowl, pour over a little boiling water and leave to infuse.
  2. Clean the clams by thoroughly scrubbing them under plenty of running water, and discarding any that are broken or don’t close tightly when you tap them. Place the clams in a saucepan, cover and cook for 8 minutes, then set the pan aside, covered.
  3. Shell the langoustines and set aside. Cut the white fish into smaller pieces.
  4. In a big saucepan, melt the butter then sauté the garlic, shallot, leeks, carrot and celeriac for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir well, then add the white wine and stir well again. Add the stock and saffron, with its soaking liquid, and the cream. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the clams with a slotted spoon, the langoustine and white fish, and let it simmer for 3–4 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with the dill, and with some bread, like the Flute.

    Rinse the fish bones and place in a stockpot. Roughly chop the garlic, onions, fennel, leek and carrot and add to the bones with 3–4 litres cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, then strain, discarding the bones and vegetables. Use right away or freeze for later use.
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