Nag’s Head Fisherman’s Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

This is a fine fish soup I dined on many years ago in the home of friends who lived on the ocean in Nag’s Head, North Carolina.


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • cups chopped sweet green or red peppers
  • 1 cup cubed carrots
  • 1 small hot green or red pepper, chopped, optional
  • pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch cubes, or 4 cups imported canned tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 7 cups Fish Stock
  • 2 teaspoons loosely packed stem saffron
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 thin slice orange peel, white pulp removed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pounds fresh scallops, cut in half or quartered if large
  • 1 cleaned 2-pound saltwater fish, such as weakfish
  • pounds raw shrimp, the smaller the better, shelled and deveined
  • 24 littleneck clams, well scrubbed


  1. Heat the oil in a kettle and add the onions, sweet peppers, carrots, and the hot pepper. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Combine the saffron with the water and add it to the stock. Add the fennel seeds, turmeric, orange peel, and sugar. Simmer about 10 minutes and add the scallops and the fish.
  3. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and clams and cook about 10 minutes, or until the clams open. If desired, the clams may be steamed separately and added to the soup, layered with the other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the fish, cut into pieces, and return to the soup. Serve piping hot.