Frith Street fish broth

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    2 litre

Appears in

Soho Cooking

Soho Cooking

By Alastair Little

Published 1999

  • About

If you are serving the Greenland prawns, save and freeze the heads and shells. These carcasses have been one of the most important ingredients in the innumerable fish soups I’ve served over the years in Soho. If they are not available, substitute a hen crab, asking your fishmonger to kill and chop it for you.


  • 1 kg prawn carcasses
  • 4 kg bones and heads of non-oily fish, gills discarded, rinsed for 1 hour in running water
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, coarsely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
  • 1 leek, diced and rinsed
  • 1 large fresh red chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a handful of parsley stalks
  • peeled rind of 1 orange (make sure that there is not too much white pith still attached)
  • 500 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • a little Pernod
  • a tiny pinch of saffron


In a very large pan heat the oil, and add the celery, onion, fennel, carrot and leek. Sweat these over a brisk heat for 5 minutes, then add the chilli, garlic, bay leaves, parsley stalks and orange rind. Sweat for a further 5 minutes, and then add the tomato and wine. Stir and bring to a boil. Throw in the prawn and fish bits, stir again and add just enough water to barely cover the solids, approximately 4 litres. Cook at a moderate boil, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Allow to cool, and tip into a large bowl through a colander. Allow the debris in the colander to drain thoroughly, pressing it with the back of a ladle. Discard the debris when you are sure that all the juices have been drained.

Clean out the original pan and return the broth to it by way of a fine sieve. Bring back to a boil and reduce by half, skimming frequently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the Pernod and saffron. Return to the boil and give it one last skim.

This broth freezes well.