One of the most loved home style Greek recipes, psarosoupa (fish soup) is a perfect dish for those cooler autumn nights that are coming our way here in Australia.
Mum's recipe starts with a simple vegetable stock, which uses plenty of celery leaves in lieu of the Greek grown herb 'selino'. If Ma were in Greece she would use selino, the wild celery, that is both a herb and a vegetable. It has much thinner stalks than our ordinary celery and more leaves. Hence, Ma's use of plenty of celery leaves in this dish.
Once the vegetable stock is created, the fish is then cooked in the stock. Ma's fish of choice here in Australia is snapper, but you could use any fish with firm white fillets. The odd red mullet (called barbounia) can also be added. Before the fish is cooked however, Ma's secret for perfect fish soup is to scrupulously clean the fish. They should be cleaned to the point where, when they are placed under a running tap, the water runs clear and is not cloudy.
When serving, the fish and vegetables can be placed into bowls, with the broth poured over the top. Alternatively, broth is served directly in bowls and the fish and vegetables are served on a separate platter drizzled with olive oil and scattered with fresh parsley so that everyone can help themselves.
Mum's fish soup with avgolemono (Ψαρόσουπα αβγολέμονο | συνταγές μαμάς)
Serves 6; preparation time 45 mins; cooking time 45-50 mins
1 kilo fish (suitable for soup)
2 sprigs celery - with plenty of celery leaves
2-3 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper for seasoning
2 egg yolks
juice on 1-2 fresh lemons
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1. Clean, wash and prepare the vegetables. The carrots, potatoes and onions should be peeled and you can either leave them whole or cut into pieces. Put a pot of water (about 3 litres) on the stove to boil and add a little salt. Add the vegetables, pepper corns and bay leaves to boil for around 45 minutes. Take the vegetables out with a slotted spoon and place on a platter. Keep warm.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, clean the fish removing scales, entrails and gills. Salt the fish and leave them in a colander to drain.
3. Place the fish into the broth of vegetables. If there is not enough to cover the fish, add a little water. Allow the fish to simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on their size. When the fish is cooked, take it out and place on a serving platter. Keep warm.
4. After passing the soup through a sieve to remove any stray bones etc, test to see if you need any more seasoning and then return the soup to the heat and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and slowly add the lemon juice and the corn flour (which has been dissolved in a little cold water), While beating constantly, ladle in the warm broth and add it to avgolemono. Make sure you are stirring constantly. About 4-5 ladles should be enough.
6. Remove the pot of soup from the heat and then add the avgolemono to the pot stirring constantly.
7. Return to the pot of soup to a very low heat and stir until the soup thickens without letting it boil, otherwise the avgolemono will spilt.
8. Serve soup in bowls and separately serve the fish and vegetables on a platter, garnished with a little chopped parsley and drizzled with plenty of extra virgin olive oil.