Jonathan Vail

Jesse Griffiths’ Fish Soup

Remember, there are many fish in the sea. Croaker, sheepshead, whiting, black drum and even gafftopsail catfish make fine eating. Beyond frying or grilling on the halfshell, try ceviche, fish soups and tacos. Think beyond The Big Three and fish for dinner, not just pictures.

4 pounds very fresh fish (snapper, grouper, redfish, whiting or flounder), filleted, bones reserved

4 bay leaves

¼ cup olive oil

1 onion, sliced

1 sweet pepper, sliced


½ tsp each cumin, coriander and fennel seed

1 pint canned tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes

½ cup white wine

4 small new potatoes, halved

Juice of one lemon

4 slices grilled or toasted bread

1 recipe aioli (below)

Chopped fresh cilantro, basil or parsley


1 egg yolk

6 cloves garlic

½ tsp salt

½ cup olive oil


Combine the fish bones and 2 bay leaves in a large pot, cover with 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, skimming any foam.

Cut the fillets into 1” pieces; set aside in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the 2 bay leaves, onion, pepper, spices and salt to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Do not brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the white wine and pour the 6 cups of the stock through a fine strainer into the pot.

Bring to a simmer and add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Season the soup to taste with salt, remove from the heat and add the fillets. Allow the fillets to cook for about 5 minutes, or until flaky, then add the lemon juice.

Divide the aioli among the 4 slices of bread and float in each soup, then garnish with chopped herbs.

Serves 4.

Aioli Directions:

In a mortar and pestle, mash the egg yolk, salt and garlic to a paste (or process in a food processor). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stirring constantly, until the aioli is thick. Refrigerate until using.

Adapted from Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, by Jesse Griffiths. Welcome Books. © 2012 Jesse Griffiths.