If ever you find yourself in Stockholm at the Food-hall (Saluhall) at lunchtime you will do well to join the local shoppers and office workers in a bowl of fish soup. Swedes like to eat lunch early, we’re talking midday or even earlier! You’ll find yourself sitting at a table where you will be jostled by shoppers laden with bags of Gravlax, smoked reindeer and dark rye bread. With an ivory-hue and topped with several large sprigs of dill, the soup is made in the market in kitchens as small as a broom cupboard. I can’t think of eating anything better on a cold day, delicious, filling and nutritious.
The Food-hall in Östermalm is being renovated at the moment so a temporary building has been constructed next door. By no means does it feel temporary, clad in wood and very modern, it is in complete contrast to the original building, functions incredibly well. Inside you will find an abundance of food sellers. From fresh fish to prepared Swedish classic dishes such as Laxpudding (salmon and sliced potato cooked with cream), Skagenröra (juicy prawns in mayonnaise, creme fraiche, chives and dill) to game meat, with counters and shelves packed with the best of the finest. There are also numerous restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy traditional Swedish delicacies, with an emphasis on seafood and the classic Swedish fare called ’husmanskost’. A great place to people-watch is an absolute must to visit if you are planning a city break in the capital.
Swedish Fish Soup with Rouille
- Fish Soup
- 1 Medium Fennel outer layer and root removed, keep for the stock
- 1 Medium Leek White part for the soup, green for the stock
- 150 g Carrot keep the peelings and trimmings
- 250 g Potato use a waxy variety
- 2 Cloves of Garlic sliced
- 1 Small bunch of Dill
- 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 300 ml Dry White Wine
- 450 ml Fish Stock made from the prawn shells
- 200 ml Whipping Cream
- 350 g Whole North Atlantic Prawns
- 500 g Thick End Cod Fillet skinned weight
- 1 Tbls Butter
- 50 ml Olive Oil
- 50 ml Sunflower Oil
- 1 Large Clove Garlic
- A Good Pinch of Saffron
- 1 Slice of White Bread crust removed or 2 tbls fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- a Squeeze of Lemon
- a Pinch of Cayenne
- Salt & pepper
- Begin by making the rouille. Soak the slice of bread in a couple of tablespoons of water. Once the water has been absorbed, squeeze out the excess water with your hands and place in a bowl (if you're using fresh breadcrumbs just pop them into the bowl) with the egg yolk, garlic, a squeeze of lemon and the cayenne.
- Grind the saffron in a pestle and mortar and then add a teaspoon of warm water to the saffron, set to one side. With an electric hand whisk at medium speed start drizzling the oil drop by drop initially into the bowl and then a slow stream, once half of the oil has been added, pour in the saffron mixture, whisk in the remaining oil gradually. You should find the sauce thicken as you whisk. Add a few more drops of lemon juice if needed and season to taste. Set to one side.
- Start by peeling the prawns, keeping the shells to make a fish stock. Once peeled set the prawns to one side and make a simple fish stock. Put the prawn shells in a saucepan with the green part of the leek and the carrot peelings and any fennel trimmings. Add 500ml water and simmer for 20 minutes, no longer. Strain you should have approximately 450mls of stock.
- Cut the white part of the leek into a 1cm dice, do the same with the potato, fennel and carrot. Slice the garlic. Have a large saucepan ready with a little olive oil and butter heating, add the fennel seeds, leeks, fennel, garlic and saute until soft but with no colour. Add the potato, carrot and saute for a further 4-5 minutes. Now add the white wine and bring to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and cream, simmer for a further 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Check the seasoning.
- Cut the cod into large dice. When you’re ready to serve bring the soup to a gentle simmer, carefully drop the cod into the soup, submerging the fish in the liquid, very gently poach the fish for 5 minutes, no longer. Now add the prawns and carefully fold them into the soup. Serve in deep bowls and top with a big piece of dill and a dollop of rouille or slather the rouille on a very thin slice of sourdough toast.
I used ‘Wet ‘or ‘Green garlic in this recipe, in season between March to May, it has a milder, more subtle flavour. No need to peel the cloves as the skin is soft and fleshy. It is by no means necessary to use, you can use ordinary garlic, just alter the amount to your taste.
Soak the bread in a little water before whisking with the egg yolk
Add the saffron as you whisk in the oil
I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy prawns with their shells on. The shells will make an incredible stock and the prawns will be so flavoursome and sweet, no comparison to ready peeled prawns. A little extra effort but get the family or your friends involved in the peeling, isn’t that after all part of the enjoyment of preparing a meal!
*Buy the thick end of the cod fillet as it’s much more chunky.
In the autumn months I like to add wild mushrooms, I love chanterelles and they work perfectly in this soup.