Simple soupe de poisson

Some of the fish that can be used in this delectable one-pot soup are rascasses, rougets, merlan, cabillaud, and, above all, petite crabs vertes, these tiny crabs being the best base for the soup. This recipe is a shortcut, quick and easy and no crabs, and you will see why.

Just so you are aware, the little green crabs may be found at our local poissoneries, but be sure to get only the females!  Sexing a crab is not easy, and the experts will pick them out for you, but to save you the trouble of having the little devils escaping from your kitchen sink and then having to say goodbye to them in boiling broth, I have developed a lovely substitute: a basic broth made from the heads and shells of simmered shrimp, which we happily eat with remoulade or red sauce and then have all the fixins’ for a rich soupe de poissons.

I will be candid. The green crab experience is…enlightening, and not to be missed for those of you willing to exterminate, then pound the little devils with a mallet to release their flavours, but trust me, shrimp heads are rich and wonderful and it’s a fine palate that will know the difference.  Especially since most soupes de poisson, even in some restaurants, are from a can or bottle.

Maybe I’ll do a video one day of the crab process, called Tip on a Dead Crab, the title of a book by Bill Murray.  But it’s the sexing part that’s really hard, haha. Who knew?

Onward, soupe de poisson lovers.

suzanne soupe

The recipe

Serves 4



– 2 pounds of cooked shrimp, eaten happily with sauces mentioned above, and heads and shells saved for broth
– 1 onion, chopped,
– 1 cup of white wine
– A bit of salt and pepper
– Water to cover


– ½ cup olive oil
– 2 sweet onions, chopped fine (I love the aparici from Spain, or Cevennes and they are found at most fresh vegetable vendors)
– 6 cloves of garlic, minced
– 2 pounds of any fish filets you like, including a salmon filet if you happen to have one around, all cut into smallish pieces
– 5 large tomatoes, puréed
– All of the shrimp broth, strained, to cover and if it doesn’t, add a little water or wine
– A generous splash of white wine
– Small dash of cognac, about 2 tablespoons
– ½ teaspoon powdered saffron or a very large pinch of saffron threads
– Juice of half a lemon
– A small piece of orange peel



Add all ingredients into a large pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and keep to one side.


In a large skillet or deep casserole over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the fish, tomatoes, broth, wine, Cognac, then cover and simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes, adding more broth if necessary (even a bit of chicken broth is okay).

You may purée the soup with what I call my magic wand, or let it cool and purée it in a food processor. It will be thick and lovely and fragrant and if you just can’t wait, serve it like this, thick and hearty.  BUT…I put mine through a sieve or passoir to get a silky, smooth texture.  Two different tastes and textures, but both good.

suzanne soupe

Heat and serve with a toast spread with rouille in the bottom of each bowl.

Homemade rouille is very different from the commercial one and is very easy to make with the magic wand or in a blender.   Just don’t make it on a rainy day as it will not emulse, hang together.  All ingredients should be room temp.


If you test this recipe, please share your comments and photos in the space below.

Food for Thought from Suzanne Dunaway

P-O Life reader, Suzanne Dunaway, has cooked since she was 5 years old, when she made cinnamon pinwheels from her mother’s pastry dough.

She LOVES to cook. Some might say she LIVES to cook. The smells, the tastes, the textures…

She is a firm believer in simplicity and creates her recipes in the ethos of ‘anyone can cook’.

After years of experience in her own kitchen, cooking schools and private classes all over the world, in this weekly blog, Suzanne shares with us her PO-inspired creations.

With many strings to her bow, she is also an artist and columnist, with two published cookbooks.


No Need to Knead

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All content and recipes are copyright of Suzanne Dunaway.

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