Maltese Fish Soup

  • Serves

    serves 6

Malta is a devoutly Catholic country, hence the popularity of this soup during the Lenten season. Using the whole fish—head and tail included—will add flavor to the soup.


  • 34 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs each basil, mint, and marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 34 lb. white potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 12 cup peas
  • 6 slices country-style bread
  • 1 (2 1⁄2-lb.) whole meaty fish, such as pompano or porgy, cleaned and cut into 3 pieces


Step 1

Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 6 cups water. Tear basil and mint leaves into pieces, then add to saucepan with marjoram leaves, saving a bit of each for garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

Step 2

Add potatoes and cook until tender and slightly falling apart, about 15 minutes. Add fish and cook until firm, about 10 minutes. Toss in peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Step 3

Take fish from pot with a slotted spoon, allow to cool a bit, and remove head, tail, skin, and bones. Return flesh and juices to pot.

Step 4

Fry bread slices in remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning once. Ladle soup into individual bowls, garnish with herbs, and serve with fried bread.

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