Fish Soup, Brazilian Beach Style (Caldinho de Peixe)

Brazilian beach-style soups, whether eaten on a hot summer’s day on the beach, or at home on a cold and damp winter’s day, are marvelous pick-me-ups and satisfy without filling. In Brazil, these soups are served in small cups, often plastic ones when they are bought from vendors at the beach, but they are only improved when they’re served in small proper soup cups or bowls.

These soups (called caldinhos in Portuguese) are fortunately also very simple to make and don’t involve a lot of time or effort. Whether January brings you chilly winter weather or the dog days of summer, you’ll find that Brazilian beach-style ish soup really hits the spot.
RECIPE – Fish Soup, Brazilian Beach Style (Caldinho de Peixe)
Makes 4 small cups or 2 bowls

1 medium-size fish steak (any type of white fish)
1 medium fish head (non-oily fish only), thoroughly cleaned and rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 medium green pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
handful fresh cilantro
1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
additional chopped cilantro (garnish, optional)
croutons (garnish, optional)
chopped green onions, green part only (garnish, optional)
In a food processor or blender combine the tomatoes (put in first), onion, green pepper, garlic and cilantro. Pulse to begin, then blend until you have a homogenous mixture. Reserve.

Cut the fish steak into large pieces. Combine the fish steak and fish head (whole) in a large saucepan and add 1 liter (1 quart) cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the blender mixture and cook, at a slow boil, until the mixture has reduced by approximately half. Remove from heat.

Take the fish head plus any skin or bones out of the soup and discard. Pour the remainder in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan, then stir in the coconut milk and olive oil. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil.

Serve in bowls or cups, and pass additional cilantro, croutons and/or green onions in small cups as individual garnishes.

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