In the days of the early Cape, meat was scarce and the ocean was big. We can therefore easily assume the fish dishes were often served. The Cape cooks improvised and adapted their fish soup recipes according to the availability of ingredients and the seasons. Snoek head soup is one such adaptation and today it is still a favourite winter recipe. Most of the old Cape fish soup recipes contained a mixture of seafood, good quality fish stock as a base, and herbs and spices. The soup was usually thickened with eggs and lemon juice, but sometimes seaweed was added to thicken the soup and enhance the flavour.
Try this delicious recipe from our Cape Winelands Cuisine Cookbook (page 47).
Serve with the 2016 La Motte Chardonnay.
Seafood Soup Recipe
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1 glove garlic, pounded to a paste
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh root ginger, pounded to a paste
pinch of saffron (optional, and can be substituted with ½ tsp [2.5 ml] turmeric)
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
bouquet garni, (Thyme, bay leaf, parsley, fennel, chives, 2 crushed cardamom pods, 2 star anise)
zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, plus additional lemon juice
200 g angelfish, cubed
200 g white fish (such as hake or dorado)
200 g red fish (black bream is a good substitute for red roman*), cubed just under 2½ cups (600ml) fish stock
1 Tbsp (15mll) ground dried seaweed (optional, but it adds a lovely taste)
¾ cup (190ml) dry white wine
½ cup (125ml) fresh cream
2 egg yolks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300 g fresh black mussels, steamed (reserve the cooking liquid to add to the fish stock) or frozen mussels
chopped fresh parsley and dill, for garnishing (optional)
Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan.
Add the onion, leek, celery, garlic, ginger, saffron, chilli and bouquet garni and sweat until soft.
Add the citrus zest and juice and cook for 5 minutes.
Add all the fish, the fish stock, ground seaweed and wine simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes more.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni.
Beat the egg yolks with a dash of lemon juice.
Pour in 2 Tbsp (30ml) of the hot soup and beat well.
Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and cook over very gently heat until thick – do not let it boil.
Season to taste. Finally, just before serving, add the mussels (if using frozen, allow a minute or two to heat through) and garnish with chopped parsley and dill.