Mediterranean Marinated Fish Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

This charming fish soup is super light. It’s cooked in two stages: first, slices of fish are marinated (my favorite form of slow-cooking), then the fish slices are finished off by pouring on ladlefuls of boiling light herb broth seasoned with bruised fennel seeds, orange peel, and cayenne.


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Pernod
  • teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 1 whole sprig
  • 4 garlic cloves, 2 minced, 2 halved
  • 2 pounds white-fleshed fish such as snapper, grouper, or bass, heads and bones reserved
  • 4 medium red ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 leek, cut up
  • ½ medium onion, cut up
  • ½ large carrot, cut up
  • ½ cup diced fresh fennel
  • 6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon bruised fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 inches dried orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried saffron threads, crumbled
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Zest from 1 orange, blanched


  1. In a 3 - quart dish, combine the olive oil, wine, Pernod, chopped thyme, and minced garlic. Add the fish fillets, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, put the fish heads and bones in a 5 - quart casserole. Add the tomatoes, leek, onion, carrot, fennel, parsley, thyme sprig, fennel seeds, bay leaf, halved garlic cloves, orange peel, and salt. Pour in 3 quarts water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Skim off the scum as it rises to the top.
  3. Strain the fish stock through a fine mesh sieve. Add the saffron and cayenne and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the fish crosswise on a slight bias into strips about 3 inches long and 1 to 1½ inches wide. Divide pieces of marinated fish among 6 soup plates. Pour the very hot fish soup over the raw fish, just to cover. Let stand 5 minutes. The hot soup will finish cooking the fish. Sprinkle the blanched orange zest over each portion.