Caldero fish soup with rice and aïoli

Caldero fish soup with rice and aïoli

The Art Of The Larder
Mike Lusmore

A traditional Spanish fishermen’s recipe made on the beach with any fish too inferior to sell at the market, the name of the dish references the small cauldron, a caldero, used to cook this soupy fish and rice dish. Paella rice is crucial, swelling in the stock but still retaining a chewy bite. Aïoli is a good addition to the finished caldero, all pungent and garlicky.

To make a quick fish stock, put about 400g of fish bones into a saucepan with a peeled clove of garlic, a few fennel and coriander seeds and a few slices of celery and onion. Top up with 850ml of water, then bring to the boil, skimming off any froth that collects. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then strain and put to one side until ready to use.


Quantity Ingredient
1 onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
4 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped, or use tinned tomatoes, drained of juice
100ml white wine
750ml fish stock or water
freshly ground black pepper
250g paella rice
20 raw prawns, peeled and deveined
800g variety of fresh fish fillets, such as sea bream, sea bass, monkfish, coley, cut into 3cm pieces, (any inexpensive white fish in good supply is fine to use)
a small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
lemon wedges, to serve

For the aioli

Quantity Ingredient
1 egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
100ml olive oil
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
lemon, juiced, to taste, a good squeeze at the very least


  1. To make the aïoli, place the egg yolk, garlic and mustard in a small bowl and beat together.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking vigorously all the time until it thickens, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
  3. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil over a moderate heat until soft and translucent, about 8–10 minutes. Add the paprika and cook for 2 minutes more, then add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the white wine and fish stock (use water if you like) and bring to the boil, adding salt to taste.
  5. Add the rice and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. About 10 minutes before the rice is ready, add the prawns and the fish. Caldero is supposed to be a little soupy, so add a bit more water if it gets too thick.
  6. When the rice and fish are cooked, add the parsley and serve immediately, with the lemon wedges and aïoli at the table.
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