Norwegian fiskesuppe

While holidaying in Ålesund, Norway Rachel stumbled upon a regional variety of Fiskesuppe: a creamy fish soup containing fresh fish and root vegetables.

First published in 2015
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Walking down one of the main streets in old town Ålesund (the costal town is famous in Norway for burning down in 1904, before being rebuilt in a pretty, Pinterest-friendly art deco style) in search of lunch my only criteria was to eat something local. I’d already gorged on all manner of Norwegian waffles, pancakes and a simply delicious Sjokolade-Mousse-Torte (a delicious cake made of layers of syrup soaked sponge, cream mousse and frosted in its entirety on the outside in a rich chocolate mousse): now I wanted something savoury.

After much deliberation we decided that the safest bet was to head to the only restaurant that did not have its menu translated into English posted outside for passing tourists, and to simply ask to order a bowl of whatever everyone else seemed to be enjoying outside on the sunny terrace.

What everyone was eating was a regional variety of Fiskesuppe: a cream enriched, flour thickened fish soup heavy with good, big chunks of fresh local cod and Norwegian salmon, bulked out with strips of root vegetables (carrot and celeriac in this case) that were tender, but still retained a good amount of bite. With plenty of bread and Nordic butter on the side, even with all the deliciously sweet and indulgent treats I’d been enjoying, this soup was easily the best thing I ate all trip.

The good news is that while to make a good, honest version of a Norwegian Fiskeuppe you’d need to make a rich fish stock from scratch before thinking of adding anything else, I’ve found that by using a good store bought stock from the refrigerator section (you can then keep this in the freezer so you have some whenever you need it) as a base, you can have a pretty quick version of this soup ready and on the table within about 20 minutes that uses up whatever chunks of fish you may have leftover from cutting fillets or making a fish pie, along with whatever root vegetables you have lurking at the bottom of your fridge.





Bring the stock gently to a simmer over a medium to high heat in a large saucepan. Add the matchstick vegetables. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften. Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the double cream
Remove the saucepan from the heat, and gradually whisk in the flour and cream mixture to create a smooth soup. Add a splash of vinegar (about 1 tsp, you can always add more vinegar, but the soup will be hard to salvage if you add too much) and a good pinch of sugar. Whisk and taste; you’re looking for a good balance between sweet and sour, without masking the flavour from the fish stock. Add more of each seasoning as necessary. If you don’t have any vinegar to hand, I’ve found that using fresh lemon juice also works well, but be careful not to add too much and add an overly lemony flavour to the soup. This addition is not traditional, but again useful for using up fridge scraps
Return the pan to the heat, and continue to whisk as you bring the soup to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the fish chunks. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until all of the fish pieces are just cooked through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve straight away with plenty of hunks of fresh white bread and good quality butter. If you wish you can garnish with pieces of chive or a couple of whole shell on prawns hooked into the side of the bowl
First published in 2015
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Rachel is a food writer, splitting time between the Kentish and French countrysides.

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