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Fish soups without milk or cream

I am looking for some fish shoup recipes that are not a chowder (ie no milk or cream). I am open to any type of fish.

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  1. There are dairy-free chowders. l've had them in Rhode Island and North Carolina - both of them made with clams. There are also a number of dairy-free fish soups around the Mediterranean, like bouillabaisse and cioppino. Actually, the only place I've had fish soups (and I love 'em) that consistently had dairy was Norway.You've got lots of options.

    1. Pretty much any Japanese or Chinese fish soup would fit the bill as would bouillabaisse, cioppino and caldo de mariscos. Many of the recipes for the former two will be partially judged on your ability to make a very clear broth so that people can see the fish and other things you've placed in your soup.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wattacetti


        I really like this recipe, and have used it many times with different types of fish and not just carp.


      2. A fish stew using a tomato-based broth is very easy to do, especially if you like spicy food, as it does benefit from a little heat. Any firm white fish will do: just add the chopped fish to the simmered stew for the last seven to ten minutes of cooking time.

        1. Manhattan style chowder - fish stock (or diluted base), onions, celery, bell pepper, diced canned tomato with the liquid, carrot, Old Bay. I like to include diced potato, wild rice, or barley, or to add pre-cooked small white beans.

              1. What type of fish do you plan to use?

                Does coconut milk count? You can go Guatemalan with a fish soup that has plantanos and coconut milk called tapado.

                A similar, but simpler idea without the coconut milk is this recipe from the cookbook False Tongues and Sunday Bread

                2 tablespoons of corn oil
                1/2 cup chopped onion
                1 garlic clove, chopped
                1 cup chopped tomato
                3 cups water
                1 teaspoon dried oregano or five fresh leaves
                1 almost ripe plantain with a yellow skin, or 1 green banana, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch tick diagonal slices
                1 to 1 1/2 pounds whole fish, sea bass or similar fish, cut into 2-inch wide slices
                1/2 teaspoon salt to taste

                I know bananas in soup sound weird, but they are delicious. In a way, an unripe plantano has a sort of potato type starchiness.

                Basically restating the instructons, sautee the first four ingredients briefly, add water and everything except fish and simmer 15 minutes. Add fish and simmer 15 minutes more.

                7 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  How cool. You've started cooking. That's what happened to me when I left SF almost 20 years ago. Thanks for your recipe.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    No, but I enjoyed eating it at a relative's house. Recipes for me are just road maps to what I'm eating.

                    1. re: rworange

                      "Recipes for me are just road maps to what I'm eating."

                      Not sure what that means to a non-cook.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Kindof like reading the Cliff Notes before attending Shakespeare in the Park?


                          1. re: meatn3

                            Not so much. When people cook regularily, they know what the makeup of a dish is. I just get the finished product usually and want to go back and deconstruct it and find out what all the components are. I'm mainly looking at the ingredient list and rarely the cooking instructions.

                            This has been especially helpful to me in a country where I don't know the language. Today we had a drink and I didn't know the Spanish word. Someone finally hauled out a bag of sesame seeds. It was sort of the same idea as horchata, only with sesame seeds ... actually pretty good.

                            So I knew that tapado had bananas, coconut milk and fish but wanted to know what else was in there that made it so delicious.

                            Not only in my current situation, but cookbooks are really helpful in learning about any unfamiliar cuisine. I have my Portuguese cookbooks for when I was into learning about that cuisine, Laotian for that phase, etc.

                            Even though 5 of my 6 Guatemalan cookbooks are in Spanish I discovered a lot of dishes I never knew existed and will look for when I'm in certain parts of the country.

                            Then again, I have my occasional cooking jags where I feel inspired to make ... something. The pain and the bad results of those experiences can last me a few months or more.

                            Or there's something new, and I want to learn about it. There were the 1001 chayote recipes or the Hatch green pepper period.

                            I'm especially into single-ingredients cookboos ... the cranberry book from wisconsin, for example

                            It's not that I don't cook, but I try to steer clear as much as possilbe. I don't have the patience for it and, as a result, the end product is lousy.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I agree about cookbooks being a great way to learn about an unfamiliar cuisine. There is a certain archeological aspect when reading cookbooks. The recipes hint at cultural influences, suggest which crops are abundant and provide a chance to get a feel for daily life in a way that is often difficult for a visitor to experience.

                              When I lived in Puerto Rico tv cooking shows and recipe books helped me very much. I was able to more knowledgeably order in restaurants. The tv shows helped my nonexistent Spanish improve since I could see the ingredient, hear the word spoken, see the spelling and have it all within a context I was familiar with. Still can't speak it worth a darn, but my reading comprehension developed to a passable level!

                2. Pretty much any East Asian fish soup do not have milk or cream. I also like this Indian-influenced broth:


                  1. Yes, the Mediterranean thing is fun and easy. I usually do it with cod, either fresh or salt, but any firm non-fatty fish should do, or even shellfish. You can do everything from raw or you can sautée vegetables, parboil potatoes, and flour and fry fish. Potatoes, tomatoes fresh or canned, onions and peppers are the heart and soul; bell peppers are most common, but Mrs. O hates those so I use poblanos. I usually start by sautéeing the chopped-up peppers and onions, then adding potatoes, tomatoes (with juice if canned) and some garlic, a little water or stock and a good pinch of salt. Let this cook, covered, adding a splash of water if necessary (though fresh tomatoes should have melted down by now). When the potatoes are tender, add the fish, and about half a cup of warmed dry white wine with a pinch of saffron whisked into it. This can be as stewy or soupy as you want to make it, so all you have to do is vary the ingredients - more tomato and liquid or more fish and potato. I garnish this with a good handful of cheap canned black olives and maybe some coarsely chopped parsley. Crusty bread, green salad, you know the drill …

                    1. White wine and fish stock or clam juice base. Onions and green peppers. Fennel. Hot pepper flakes. After it's cooked for a bit, add chunks of a meaty white fish, like cod. Easy. Healthy. Light. Experiment with the ingredients. Unless you overtook the fish or use cut rate ingredients, it's a hard recipe to mess up, but an easy one to make and have fun with.

                      1. Maybe the easiest of all is tom yam pla. (Easy, that is, if you use a commercially-prepared paste - I like Lucky Coin brand). Stir up a little paste in fish stock (or water), add chunks of fish, cook 'til done. Garnish with scallions and cilantro. I like to add some mushrooms, too.

                        Of course, you can tweak the recipe by adding lime juice, fish sauce, galangal, nam prik pao, etc., etc. Or you can make your own paste from scratch. But for a quick, basic, and very tasty fish (or shrimp, or chicken, or mixed shellfish) soup you just can't go wrong with tom yam.

                        1. Many good suggestions so far. You might consider adding some powdered shrimp which is available in most latin markets.

                          1. Provencal fish soup. It's a bit of work but totally worth it. Probably my favorite fish soup. You can use any white fish (avoid mackerel or other strong-tasting oil fish), and if you throw in some fish heads/backs it will make the broth all the better. I add to that recipe by throwing in some orange juice as well and sometimes leave out the wine. A food mill works best, in a pinch you can use a fine seive and press with the back of a spoon to get the goodness out of the mush. I don't recommend a blender especially if there are any bones, which there should be since whole fish work best in this. Best to try to remove the larger bones first before putting it through the mill.

                            A Rouille is key; I make it by pounding a couple egg yolks, a few raw garlic cloves and some chili in a pestle and then mixing in olive oil till you get a nice garlicy mayonnaise. A traditional rouille might omit the egg yolks and add bread crumbs but i like the egg.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jcolvin

                              Had an amazing soupe de poisson at La Pinede, a place down on the water between Nice and Monaco. No ceremony, just a bowl apiece, crouton dropped in, dollop of rouille and two ladles of soup over each. Took a sip and the ocean exploded gently in my mouth. Had not believed that so much flavor could come from fish mush! The rest of the meal was fancier and very good, but that soup is still with me. So far I've never made it, but I guess it's time. Thanks.

                              1. This is one of my go-to meals, and I am working my way through quarts and quarts of fish stock. I like a "brothy" soup, so I have increased the amount of stock. The original recipe, passed on by a friend, only called for 1 cup.

                                Fisherman’s Soup
                                Serves 2-3

                                3 slices of bacon, cut into cubes or 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter
                                1 medium onion, chopped
                                1 small garlic clove, minced
                                1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
                                1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
                                1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded & chopped tomatoes (or substitute canned crushed tomatoes)
                                1/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine
                                3 cup fish stock
                                1 cup diced potatoes
                                .75 to 1 pound skinless white fish fillets, cut into large chunks
                                salt & freshly ground black pepper

                                Heat a good quality soup pot over medium-high heat. Render bacon. Reserve bacon bits. or melt olive oil, butter and the onions and garlic.

                                Add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft and opaque. Add herbs and sauté until the aroma of the herbs strengthens.

                                Add tomatoes, wine, stock and fish stock. Bring to a simmer and let reduce about 5%. Add potatoes and let the soup simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, but still firm. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

                                Add fish chunks and simmer until the fish is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve in warmed bowls with some crusty bread.

                                1. How about sinigang, a tamarind-based Filipino soup? It can be made with a variety of proteins, but a white fleshy fish works well. Bangus/milkfish or shrimp are traditional, but I've used other fishes with great success. (Even salmon)

                                  It's dead simple, you just need the tamarind flavoring. There's a powdered version, and also a better jarred version- I use Mama Sita brand (If you're in Boston, both versions can be found HK Market in Allston. Throw in some veggies: onions, tomatoes, garlic, and usually also string beans, white radish, eggplant, and some leafy greens (traditionally kangkong/ong choy, but spinach or other leafy greens work. You can also add some sliced hot pepper if you want. When the veggies and fish are cooked, add fish sauce to taste, and serve with rice.

                                  1. I can not eat dairy but use coconut milk and love making moqueca, a Brazilian fish stew that is full of rich flavor. I follow this recipe for the most part, but it is easy to find others that are similar.


                                    1. these are great suggestions. I am part of a fish share and often have leftover white fish. Today I am getting pollack. I often make chowder but wanted something light and less creamy.