Friday, 23 December 2011

Salmon, scallop and mussel soup (Nigel Slater's recipe)

I enjoyed reading Nigel Slater's feature on Oslo and its cuisine in the latest issue of The Observer. The fish soup Oslo-style sounded very tempting, and I was fed up with the pasta dishes and needed something different.

Here is the recipe for Salmon, scallop and mussel soup (if you fancy reading the article, study the recipe in full and the other recipes go here).

Nigel being a talented chef has included a home-made stock in his recipe, but he also suggested that we simple mortals can use a good-quality readymade fish stock (which is exactly what I did).
You will need 800ml.

Serves 4
For the stock:
carrot 1
leek 1, small
olive or rapeseed oil 1 tbsp
onion 1, small
bay leaf 1
black peppercorns 6
fish bones 800g

For the basil purée (optional):
basil leaves 20g
olive oil 75ml

For the soup:
salmon fillet 400g, skinned
scallops 8
dill 10g
mussels 12
double cream 250ml

Make the fish stock. Roughly chop the carrot and the leek, put them in a deep pan with the oil and let them cook for 5 minutes over a low to moderate heat. Peel and chop the onion, add it to the carrot and leek and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and sweet. Add the bay leaf, the peppercorns and the fish bones, then pour in enough water to cover the bones, at least 1.5 litres, and bring to the boil. Remove any froth with a draining spoon, then leave the stock to simmer for no more than 30 minutes. Drain the stock, you will need 800ml, and discard the bones.
To make the basil purée, put the basil leaves and olive oil in a blender and whizz to a thick, dark green cream, then set aside.
Pour 800ml of stock into a clean pan and bring to the boil before turning down to a simmer. Cut the salmon into 3-4cm cubes and lower into the stock, then almost immediately add the scallops, chopped dill and the mussels. The second the mussels have opened, add the cream, season the soup with a little salt, then ladle into warm bowls. Stir in the basil purée if you are using it, and serve."

I confess: I didn't make the fish stock myself, I don't have any fish bones or heads stored in the fridge, though I have been pestering the guy at the fish counter in Waitrose many times if they have any salmon heads for sale, he thinks I have a salmon head fetish or something. I keep buying fish and freeze all the heads, but I need it for cooking a dish of my own for which I will need a clear fish stock. For Nigel's recipe I used the fresh fish stock courtesy of Waitrose. I added a shallot and a bay leaf, plus a small chopped carrot a small potato.
Also I adjusted the amount of fish, for two of us. Sasha would only eat the tuna pate, and Eddie loves the fish fingers. I'm afraid the wonders of the Scandinavian soup would not be appreciated by them.
Reader, I tried, they both declined. :)

The first thing to take into account is that it is not a cheap soup. A 200 g fillet of salmon and scallops with mussels cost about £8, plus the fresh fish stock and the basil plant for £1.99, so not exactly a frugal meal. Perhaps if you are a Scandinavian fisherman, the price is low. Alas, I am not. Neither am I married to a Russian oligarch, and thanks goodness for life's little mercies.

Let me tell you, it was one of the best fish soups I ever had. Totally mouthwatering. Both my husband and I thought it was delicious. I will definitely cook it again.
And the basil puree was an inspired touch. Bravo, Nigel Slater, you are a genius.


  1. inspired to try this one out!

  2. This sounds very good. Nigel Slater was one of my early heroes...along with Elizabeth David!