We always recall certain weekend lunchtimes of our youth when the greater family gathered around a big table to enjoy a hearty “psarosoupa“. These were really warming moments of Cretan wintertimes. We have really early memories of enjoying this dish and it is naturally one of our favourites. The open seas surrounding the island of Crete (especially the ones to the south!) are some of the best sources for clean and amazingly tasty fish. The Cretan soil is also heavenly for vegetable gardens. There could not be any greater and more balanced combination of what land and sea offers on this magical island. So it is with great pleasure that we provide this delicious and authentic recipe.
Fish has always been regarded as a truly healthy and nutritious food. It is a fantastic source of protein, vitamin D (important when you live in less sunny places!), as well as the best source of omega-3 fatty acids that lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Add to that the amazing properties of vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes (full of fiber, vitamins and folate) and you get the ultimate health booster; the Cretan “psarosoupa”, i.e., the Cretan fish and vegetable soup, prepared with a protein rich egg-lemon addition (“avgokoma”). The healthiness score is an easy 3 out of 3 (🥑🥑🥑).
The pescatarian recipe below feeds around 5 people as a main dish. Cretan fish soup requires a fairly substantial preparation, namely washing and peeling the vegetables. Fish might also require some cleaning, so additional time might be necessary. As a rule of thumb, you can roughly count 60 mins for preparation and 60 mins for cooking. Therefore the time score is 3 out of 3 (⌛⌛⌛). The produced outcome is truly delicious and healthy and it receives an overall score of 3 out of 3 (😋😋😋).
The ingredients for this recipe are readily accessible everywhere. Therefore the ingredients score is 1 out of 3 (🔎). The ingredients are as follows:
- 800-1000 gr fish. If fish is a clean fillet form, it can be less
- 4-5 big peeled carrots (~400 gr) chopped into large chunks
- ~1 Kg peeled potatoes
- 3-4 peeled onions (~150 gr)
- 1 small bunch of celery (~30 gr)
- ~2 liters of water to start with. More water to be added gradually if and when necessary during boiling
- ~2 teaspoons of salt
- Half a teacup of risotto rice
- For the egg-lemon addition (“avgokoma”) to the broth:
- 2 egg yolks
- Juice from ~1.5 squeezed lemons
- 1 tea cup of extra virgin olive oil (should be always added at the end)
The “psarosoupa” preparation requires significant time and involves a lot of steps (although fairly easy to execute), therefore receiving a 3 out of 3 preparation score (🍳🍳🍳). Follow the steps below:
- Add all vegetables apart from the celery and the water and a bit of salt into a high pan and bring to boil.
- After approximately 15 mins of boiling add the celery to the broth. The celery is added at this stage to avoid completely dissolving.
- In about 5 mins of boiling the vegetables are done (try them!). Remove the vegetables and put them in a receptacle while keeping the broth intact in the pan. The vegetables will be used again when serving.
- Sprinkle salt on the fish, add it into the vegetable broth and bring to boil. Add some salt to the broth. Add a bit of boiling water to recover the evaporated water.
- After approximately 5 to 10 mins the fish is cooked. Remove the fish and put it in a receptacle. We will need it again when serving.
- Fish boiling time heavily depends on the type of fish. For instance, cod cooks very fast (needs maximum 5 mins cooking).
- (optional) Strain the broth using a sieve to remove any remaining fish bones. If your fish is a well cleaned fillet, this step is unnecessary.
- (optional) To thicken your soup, blend together 2-3 of the boiled potatoes, one carrot and a ladleful of broth. Then put the mixture into the broth and stir thoroughly.
- Put the rice into the broth and bring to boil. Cook for around 10 mins. Make sure that you turn off the hob slightly before the rice is properly cooked, as the cooking process slowly continuous until the soup is served.
- Time to make the egg-lemon addition to the broth!
- Put the egg yolks together with the lemon juice into a large bowl and stir very well with a whisk until a uniform mixture is produced.
- Then add a ladleful of broth into the bowl while stirring continuously the mixture (this is to avoid partial cooking of our eggs).
- Repeat approximately three times and pour the bowl with egg-lemon-broth content into the main broth pan.
- Keep stirring until a uniform mixture is produced.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil and stir thoroughly.
- Soup is ready to be served!
Now we come to the most enjoyable part of our cooking; serving and eating our delicious Cretan “psarosoupa”!
Gently stir the soup in the pan so that the rice content is distributed evenly in the pan. Using a ladle fill your deep soup plates but not to the very top; leave some space for vegetables and fish to be added. Add some vegetables according to your wishes. You can also grind some black pepper to give it a spicier touch.
Fish could be either added into the soup or served separately on another dish. In the latter case sprinkle on it some extra virgin olive oil and squeeze a bit of lemon, what the Greeks call “ladolemono”. What I do depends on the fish type; I put tasty fish in my soup while I eat blander fish separately with “ladolemono” to boost their taste.
Last but not least, our Cretan “psarosoupa” is greatly accompanied by a healthy Cretan wholemeal bread. Follow this link (Cretan healthy bread with a breadmaker) to see our version of delicious Cretan wholemeal bread. If you prefer the traditional hand made bread version follow this link (handmade Cretan healthy bread).
Last edited: 06/03/2019
© Recipe and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis