Fish (and chorizo) soup

Fish (and chorizo) soup

The River Cottage Fish Book
Simon Wheeler

This soup has become a classic at River Cottage. We make it with all sorts of fish, from black bream to pouting. Many things can be added but the three basic ingredients are always the same: fillets of very fresh fish, sometimes lightly salted, roast tomato sauce and fish stock. You can make it a bit more ‘deluxe’ by adding squid and/or various shellfish. Usually, but not always, we add some of our homemade chorizo for an extra kick of spice and texture. And you can turn it from a starter soup to a main-course stew by adding potatoes, chickpeas or shredded greens, as suggested below.

The tomato sauce is an old favourite of ours, and very versatile. It’s a brilliant way to deal with a glut of tomatoes, if you have one, as it freezes beautifully.


Quantity Ingredient
4 small, hot chorizo sausages (about 250g in total), sliced on the diagonal
or a small amount olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
pinch fennel seeds
200ml white wine
500ml Fish stock
or 500ml Shellfish stock
500g white fish fillets, lightly salted, such as pouting, whiting or pollack

For the roasted tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1kg ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes, halved
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

Optional ‘luxury’ extras

Quantity Ingredient
200g small-medium squid or cuttlefish, cleaned and ‘butterflied’
1-2 scallops, shelled, cleaned and sliced in half, per person
6 mussels, steamed open in a little wine, per person

Optional ‘bulking’ extras

Quantity Ingredient
750g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky cubes
500g pre-cooked chickpeas
or 500g tinned chickpeas, (rinsed)
250g spinach, finely shredded
or 250g swiss chard, finely shredded
or 250g other greens, finely shredded

To garnish

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped, (optional)


  1. First make the tomato sauce. Arrange the tomato halves in an ovenproof dish so they sit snugly side by side, rather than on top of each other. Mix the garlic and oil together and trickle them over the tomatoes. Season lightly, then roast in an oven preheated to 180°C for 35–45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft, pulpy and slightly browned. Rub them through a sieve, discarding the pips and skin, and set aside.
  2. Put the chorizo (if using) in a large, heavy saucepan and fry over a medium heat until lightly coloured. Otherwise heat a little olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic, onions, celery and fennel seeds. If using potatoes, add them at this stage. Fry gently for 10 minutes, to soften the vegetables without browning them, then pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half.
  3. Add 250 ml of the tomato sauce (you might have a little more than this, but any extra will keep well in the fridge) and the stock, plus the chickpeas if you are using them, then bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, skin the fish fillets and remove any pin bones by slicing down either side of the bone line. Cut the fish into fairly large chunks – small pouting or whiting fillets can be used whole.
  5. When the tomato soup base has had its 20 minutes, add the fish, together with the squid or cuttlefish and scallops if using. Cook briefly in the gently simmering soup for 2–3 minutes, adding any mussels and shredded greens after a minute.
  6. Season the soup with pepper, adding salt only if necessary (with chorizo, you really shouldn’t need it). Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with chopped parsley if you like, and serve with crusty bread.
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