Italian Fish Soup Recipe (2024)

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (1)

Every Christmas Eve, my family partakes in the Italian tradition of hosting a “Feast of the Seven Fishes” meal. As you might have guessed, it includes seven different fishes typically served over seven different courses. While in this day and age it’s completely acceptable to double up fishes in one dish, my family takes it pretty seriously and spends the day cooking an elaborate spread.

This year, I’m in charge of the soup. I call this Italian fish soup my “poor man’s cioppino” because it only has one fish in it. However, if you wanted to gussy this up, all you need to do is add some clams and mussels. Or you can turn it into a Manhattan-style clam chowder by adding clam juice and clams to the base instead of cod. This dish is pretty versatile and can be changed to suit your tastes or budget.

Read on to learn how to make this Italian fish soup. It’s destined to be a crowd-pleaser at your next holiday celebration!

Italian Fish Soup: A Feast of the Seven Fishes Recipe

I absolutely love the versatility of soup. You can go hearty and thick or light and refreshing. It can be served hot or cold (though I always choose hot :). Pretty much everyone likes soup…even my picky-as-hell, four-year-old niece has soups she likes. Over the past few years we’ve been making an awesome artichoke oyster soup, but this year I wanted to lighten it up and make a broth-based dish because, let’s face it, I’m usually always with a cold at Christmas time.

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (2)

This dish is soup-er easy (see what I did there?). There’s minimal chopping and most of the time is spent just letting the flavors meld. While it’s not 100% necessary to make soup, I like roasting lemons instead of putting in the juice raw because they caramelize and give off a much richer flavor. But if you’re cramped on time, don’t sweat it. Skip this step and add the lemon juice at the end. You’ll just end up with a lighter, more acidic dish.

What Does This Soup Taste Like?

What I love about this soup is the fact that it starts tasting hearty thanks to the cheese rind, but it finishes light and acidic because of the tomatoes and roasted lemon. The first note that hits your palate is the deep umami taste from the Pecorino Romano rind. Almost immediately afterward the thyme and deep lemon flavor takes over. Lastly, the taste of fire-roasted tomatoes lingers on your tongue.

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (3)

The Recipe

Serves 4 | Active 20 minutes | 60 minutes total


  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus some more for brushing)
  • 1 large lemon, halved
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced ~1/4″ – 1/8″ thick
  • 1 large fennel, cored and sliced ~1/4″ – 1/8″ thick (~2 C). Reserve the fronds for garnish.
  • 1.5 – 2 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ half moons (~1/4 C)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 2, 14.5 oz. cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 C low-sodium chicken stock
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1″ Pecorino Romano cheese rind (or another similar hard cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. cod, skin removed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped basil


Step 1

Preheat the over to 375°F. Lightly brush the cut part of each lemon half with some extra virgin olive oil and place it face down on a cookie sheet (I cover my sheet in foil for easy clean up). Roast for 25 minutes until charred. Set aside and let cool.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When shimmering, add the sliced onion and fennel, plus 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Begin cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions and fennel start to soften, 3 minutes.

Step 3

Add the carrots and stir. Cook until the onions start to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Step 4

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, one minute.

Step 5

Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Step 6

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, 1 C of water, thyme sprigs, cheese rind, sugar, and another tsp. of salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Then turn down heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are soft and the flavors meld, about 25 minutes.

Step 7

Squeeze the roasted lemon juice into the soup and add the parsley and basil. Stir. Then season the fish with salt and pepper and gently add it to the soup, spooning broth over the fish until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.

Step 8

Taste the soup and add the last 1/2 tsp. salt if necessary. Remove from heat and portion into bowls. Serve with fennel fronds on top and enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 335 | Calories from fat: 49 | Fat: 6g | Saturated fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1,177mg | Carbs: 470g | Fiber: 8g | Sugars: 12.5g | Protein: 25g

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (4)

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (5)

Nutritional Facts Disclaimer: I am not a registered nutritionist and therefore these numbers are approximate. I researched the serving sizes and facts for each ingredient in this recipe (mostly using the manufacturer labels and this site), but slight variations in things like seasoning, garnishes, and substitutions can change the nutritional information. Use this information only as a general indication of your nutritional intake.

Italian Fish Soup Recipe (2024)
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