In mid-June 2018, Maggie and I flew into Bergen, Norway, after spending eight delightful days in the Scottish highlands. We had booked two nights’ accommodation in the old centre of Bergen, ahead of a cruise that would take us along the southern coast of Norway before disembarking in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.
When we arrived at our hotel, it was the middle of the day, too early to check in, so we adjourned to a cafe located a few doors along the street. The menu was short – in keeping with the size of the kitchen – and I soon settled on the fish soup. (Eating plenty of fish was one of my priorities for our fortnight in Scandinavia.)
The soup was delicious, so much so that I had a second helping the following day! I also made a mental note to try my hand at making something similar in our home kitchen back in Melbourne. A search of the internet didn’t turn up much that inspired me but I did find a recipe which gave me a sound starting point, from which I could make my way towards something I would enjoy.
(It didn’t help that I hadn’t taken a photo of what I was served in Bergen, or that my palate memories were subsequently overwhelmed by the endless variety of delicious seafood dishes available on our Viking cruise ship. Certainly, I had no memory of there being tomato in my bowl, although this ingredient appears in many recipes.)
We already have a creamy mussel dish in our repertoire and scallops are a luxury worthy of a higher calling, so my first homemade pot of fish soup contained some pieces of prawn (shrimp) and some 2cm cubes of a firm white-fleshed fish. The texture of the cooked prawn flesh didn’t work well with the other, softer elements of the finished soup, so I replaced it with some Atlantic salmon. The only “optional” ingredient I used was potato and I added some soup-friendly celery.
I have now made fish soup four times and settled on my recipe. Since my forced conversion to a low-carb routine, I use less potato than specified below. And I would be happy to consider adding some tomato next time, probably in the form of Maggie’s cooked tomato reduction or some slow-baked tomatoes.
1-2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and finely sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
3 tsp plain flour
4 cups fish stock
1/2 stick celery, halved lengthways and sliced semi-finely
1-2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely sliced into wafers
salt and pepper
200-250g firm, white fish cut into 2cm cubes
100-120g Atlantic salmon, cut into 2cm pieces
- Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over gentle heat, add leek and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add flour, cook for one minute then gradually add stock, stirring constantly.
- When liquid is simmering, add celery and potato, bring back to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add carrot wafers and simmer for 4 minutes
- Add seasoning, allowing for saltiness of fish
- Add fish, return to simmer and cook for 3 minutes
- Add cream to taste and simmer for 2 minutes
- Adjust seasoning and serve
And where is the “Danish twist” you might wonder? Well, we bought the ‘pencil sharpener’, which produces perfect vegetable wafers, in Copenhagen, a few hours after disembarking from our cruise ship.