Catalan Fish Soup

With Dick Beaumont

This fantastic fish soup, which is a meal in itself, can be made using any white fish. If you want to keep it authentic use Gilthead Bream. Alternatively, you can use Bass, Spanish Mackerel, Snapper, Dorado or Grouper.


  • 1kg x Sea Bream, I’ve used Black Bream
  • 12 x fresh live mussels or clams
  • 2 x large Spanish onions, finely chopped (but keep the top/bottom/skins, you’ll need these for the stock!)
  • 1x head of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1x unwaxed lemon, quartered
  • ½ cup roughly, chopped parsley
  • 1 x heaped tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1 x large Spanish tomato, skinned and quartered
  • 1 x heaped teaspoon of pink whole peppers corns
  • 2 x dried Bay leaves
  • ¼  cup of olive oil
  • ½ bottle dry white Spanish wine, Penedes or a light Sauvignon. Any dry white unoaked wine will work fine.
  • It will be a shame to waste the other half of the bottle, so chill that right down and taste continuously during the preparation of the soup, just to make sure it’s still OK before you add it in!  
  • Salt and black ground pepper to taste

Fish stock

The key to this soup is in preparing fresh fish stock. It’s simple to do and utilizes the bits you will otherwise throw overboard, the head, bones and fins.


  1. Descale the fish before gutting it
  2. Fillet the fish and put the head, fins and bones into a deep pan, cover with a pint of water, then add the top/bottom & skins from the large Spanish onions.
  3. Crush 4 cloves of garlic and add that to the stockpot along with the two bay leaves 
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. Bring the pan to the boil then turn down to simmer for 30- 45 mins.

6. While the stock is cooking down use a large stockpot to sweat down the chopped onions in the olive oil. Don’t use too much olive oil, just enough to sweat the chopped onions, and don’t let the onions brown, when they are opaque, add the remainder of the chopped garlic.

7. Keep on a low heat for 5 mins. Stir to stop the garlic from sticking.

8. When the stock is ready, strain it through a fine sieve and add the stock to the onions and garlic.

9. Add the ½ bottle of white wine and bring back to the boil, reduce the heat then turn down to simmer.

10. Squeeze all four segments of lemon into the soup, cut the last squeezed lemon quarter in half and add that to the pan too.

11. Add the parsley, rosemary and pink peppercorns.

12. Simmer all for 20 mins. Then bring to the boil.

13. Dice the Bream fillets leaving the skin on.

14. Add the diced Bream and the mussels/clams to the broth and reduce to simmer for 4 mins, no more.

15. Serve with crusty bread and a second bottle of flint cold Spanish white wine.

Enjoy and let me know how it went

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