There are several variations to fish soups as you make your way up and down the island chain of the Caribbean, so there’s no surprise that I have several recipes in my repertoire. This version is very similar to the fish broff (broth) you’d find in Trinidad and Tobago, which I shared a few years back. Fairly light when compared to the thick stew-like soups we enjoy in the Caribbean, but you can certainly add yams, green cooking bananas, sweet potatoes, dasheen and other ingredients if you like.
1 fish head (I used a halibut)
2 cups cubed Cod fish
1/2 large onion
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
8-10 cups water
2 fish stock cubes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon veg oil
1 large potato (cubed)
1/2 lime (juice)
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1 stalk celery
2 cups cubed pumpkin
small bunch watercress (thick stems removed)
* If making this gluten free, do go through the entire list of ingredients to ensure it meets with your specific gluten free dietary needs. (especially the fish stock cube). It’s important that you ask the person in your fish market to clean the fish head for you if you’re new to handling fish.
Heat your soup pot on a med heat and go in with the veg oil. Now add the thyme, celery, onion, scallions and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low and allow that to cook for about 4-5 minutes.
Add the fish head and black pepper and give it a good stir. Then add the water and fish stock cube (if you prefer to use fish stock instead of water, you can certainly do so). Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
As it comes to a boil add the diced potato and pumpkin.. then reduce to a rolling boil and let it go for 10 minutes.
Now add the lime juice, cilantro and cubed pieces of Cod and continue cooking for a final 10 minutes. So in total it will cook for 20 minutes from the time it came to a boil. You will notice that I did not add any salt as I find that the sodium content in the fish stock cube is enough to season the soup, however you can taste and adjust accordingly.
I must mention that I added the scotch bonnet pepper when the soup came to a boil, whole. As I wanted the flavor but not the raw heat. At the end of cooking you have two options.. remove it or burst it open and release that Caribbean sunshine (heat). Turn the stove off and add the watercress. The residual heat will heat through the cress!
A lovely light soup as I said at the top, with wonderful flavors of the Caribbean. I must warn you that the fish head will have bones, so be mindful of this when serving this to kids. You will also notice (depending on the fish you use) that it can be a bit oily, so try and skim off some of that oil as it settles at the top of the soup.
Serve with wedges of lime or lemons and some extra watercress will not hurt!