Psarosoupa is a classic Greek fish soup made with cod, vegetables and flavoured with lemon
Ψαρόσουπα. Psarosoupa! This is one of those recipes that just sounds more appetizing in Greek. Perhaps we could have come up with a better translation. We could have called this recipe cod and root vegetable bouillabaisse, or seafood chowder with a hint of lemon. Ultimately, we decided on the potentially unappetizing fish soup. This is the literal translation of psarosoupa (Ψαρόσουπα) and we tend to be purists…some of the time. Our tsoureki and feta grilled cheese, our spanakopatata and our Greek-style Cobb salad showcase our freewheeling, wild side…but we digress.
The reality is, this soup is unpretentious by nature and therefore shouldn’t be called anything other than what it is. It’s a soup…with fish in it. Sure, there are other things like carrots, celery, fennel (now that IS kind of fancy) and lemon juice, but the fish is the star.
It had actually been years since our parents made this fish soup, despite it being a very popular meal when we were growing up. We remember our mother watching us closely as we enjoyed our bowl of soup. She was always slightly paranoid that we would choke on an errant fish bone that she hadn’t managed to pick out. At that time she made psarosoupa with a variety of fish, all purchased at a fishmonger she trusted would sell her only the freshest, best quality fish possible.
Since that time, her favourite fish market closed and she developed a mistrust of much of the fish she found available for purchase; it never seemed good enough. And so, the days of psarosoupa, the traditional Greek fish soup slowly became further and further apart until they were simply no more.
When we initially asked our parents for the recipe to their delicious psarosoupa (we could still remember how much we loved it), they hesitated, offering instead to make a nice lamb roast or moussaka. We insisted, and persisted, and suggested that the psarosoupa could be made with only cod, a fish they still enjoyed and ate regularly. So, here it is, a recipe slightly modified from their original version, but still as delicious as we remember it.
Can this fish soup (psarosoupa) be made with any fish?
Sure it can! If you live where the selection of good quality fish abounds, feel free to use whatever firm white fish you enjoy. You an also add in some salmon or trout. This soup is your oyster (pun totally intended)!
Do we use fresh cod or salted cod in this fish soup?
Fresh cod (or cod that has been previously frozen) is what our parents use, but you can also use salted cod if you like. If using salted cod, plan ahead. The fish needs to soak in a bowl of cold water (that you will change regularly) for several days. Unsalted cod is certainly easier for this psarosoupa recipe. If you have some salted cod you’re looking to use, check out this lovely classic Greek recipe for bakaliaro and skordalia.
Is it best to purchase farmed fish or wild caught fish?
We tend to purchase wild caught fish whenever we can, although farmed fish can also be a great option. We have written more about this question on our post for cedar planked salmon. Feel free to visit that post to learn more.
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Things you might need:
Fish Soup (Ψαρόσουπα)
- Frying pan
- Soup pot
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 12 - 14 cups (3000- 3500 mL) water
- 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped you can use equal amounts of winter squash instead
- 1 cup fennel, chopped the white bulb only
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 medium size white or yellow-flesh potatoes peeled and cut into quarters or halves
- 350 grams (3/4 lb or 12 oz) fresh cod cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup (75 grams) uncooked small pasta like tubetti
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- In a small frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the chopped onion and fry the onion until caramelized.
- Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 12 cups of water (you may need to add more as your soup cooks). Once the water comes to a boil, add your celery, sweet potatoes (or squash), fennel, carrots and potatoes. Slowly add in the fried onions as well.
- Cook your soup over medium heat until the vegetables are done and can easily be pierced with a sharp knife. This should take approximately about 30-40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the white or yellow-flesh potatoes and place them in a small bowl with about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork and then return them to the soup pot.
- With the soup still over medium heat, add in your pasta and the cod. Add the salt and pepper. Cook your soup until the pasta and cod have been cooked through; this should take between 10-15 minutes. Add up to 2 cups more water at any point if you feel your soup is too thick.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl add the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot. Stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Add to the soup, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to thicken slightly for a few minutes before serving.