Icelandic Fish Soup - Fiskisúpa

This past summer, we went to Iceland where the weather has a reputation for being quite fickle. We found truth in the local adage, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes." Traveling around the island, this became my favorite dish, because after a long day of hiking in blustery, rainy weather, wouldn't you want to revive your spirits with a warm bowl of soup?

I think of this as Iceland's version of Chicken Soup, widespread, homey, but with seafood instead of chicken, of course. And like chicken soup, it lends itself to improvisation. All sorts of seafood appeared in Fiskisúpa - cod, haddock, char, langoustine, shrimp, scallops. Many of the versions had a tomato base, but there were some that used curry and coconut milk. I fell in love with those! It seemed such an unusual and exotic find in Iceland, although after our 3-week stay, we discovered they were a common, albeit "modern" addition to Icelandic cuisine. Naturally, I included curry and coconut milk in my version below!

This year's winter in California has been a doozy. We've had slashing sheets of rain give way to rainbows arcing across a cerulean sky, all within a span of 10 minutes. In other words, it's just like summer in Iceland! I'm glad to report this soup has been just as effective in California as it was in Iceland and I'm sure it'll do the trick for you wherever and whenever you find yourself in stormy weather!

I loved the langoustine in Iceland (also called scampi and Norway lobster), but they're difficult to find here in the US and expensive to boot. Passable substitutes include langostino or shrimp. Any firm, white-flesh fish can be used, cod being the traditional choice. I also like adding calamari. Trader Joe's carries a good variety of frozen seafood.

If you're not a fan of curry or coconut, you can omit them and substitute heavy cream for the coconut milk.

On the other hand, if you want to up the Asian influence of curry and coconut milk, you can substitute lime juice for the red wine vinegar and cilantro for the chives.

Icelandic Fish Soup
Inspired by The Reykjavik Grapevine
Serves 8-10

In a large stockpot, over medium heat, saute together until vegetables are soft:
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 large leek (white and light green part), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Stir in and cook for 1 minute:
1 tbs mild curry powder

Add to stockpot and saute for 5 minutes, until well incorporated with vegetables:
1 - 6oz (170g) can tomato paste

Add to stockpot and reduce for 5 minutes:
1 cup dry white wine

Add to stockpot and simmer for 20 minutes:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 quarts (12 cups) of vegetable broth or alternatively, 3 quarts of water and vegetable bouillon (see package for appropriate amount)

Add and let simmer for 5 minutes or until seafood is cooked and/or warmed (if using frozen cooked):
2 lbs (approx 1 kg) mix of your favorite seafood (cod, haddock, shrimp, langoustino, scallops, squid)

Lastly, pour into soup and warm, but don't let it come to a boil:
1 - 13.5oz (400ml) can Coconut Milk (full fat)

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle on top:
fresh chives, snipped

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