Fish Soup Catania
(“Zuppa di Pesce
Catanese” – “Suppa ri Pisci”)
This soup requires some preparation because a broth has to be prepared before the fish soup is made and some of the
fish has to be cooked separately to make it easy to complete this dish.
Cooking the zuppa is not a hard chore, it is easy, the only recommendation is do not spoil the fish by overcooking
As usual, there are no set rules in the preparation of the broth, let your taste, your fantasy and mainly what is
available in your refrigerator or your pantry dictate the type of vegetables to be used. Parsley, bay leaves and
onions or scallions should be utilized to give this dish its characteristic aroma. Add any vegetables you choose
like celery, carrots or chopped fennel fronds or any of your preferred herbs like basil, mint, sage, marjoram,
thyme, rosemary, oregano or choose any spice like cloves, pepper, saffron, or allspice.
In Catania, the fish used are from the Mediterranean Sea, which are different from our local fish. There whole fish
are cooked, some with the head attached. The variations in this recipe are made to adapt to the local products and
Fish steaks or fillets are favored in this preparation, and the lean type of fish, like black sea bass, grouper,
halibut, ocean perch, red snapper, shark, scrod, tile fish, monkfish or whiting should be used.
Buy from a reliable fishmonger and make sure that the fish have a fresh smell and firm flesh.
For the Broth
tablespoons of olive oil
medium sliced onion
of marjoram or oregano
tablespoons of Italian parsley, finely chopped
of vegetables washed and diced. Use celery, sliced carrots, or any other greens
qts. of water
of hot red pepper flakes (Optional)
fish assorted fresh heads of fish, preferable grouper, halibut, red snapper, or 1 ½ lb. of clean whiting with
For the Fish
of squid cleaned – slice the tubes into ¾ inch rings, cut the tentacles in 3 parts
doz. littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
mussels, scrubbed, debearded and rinsed
shrimps rinsed, with shell on, deveined (cut in the back to devein them)
assorted fish cut into steaks or in chucks, if boneless
For the Soup
of olive oil
cloves of garlic
medium chopped onions
imported Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped, without the juice
of white wine
pinches of saffron
tablespoons of Italian parsley, finely chopped
In an 8 quart stockpot combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, bay leaves, parsley, vegetables, fish’s heads and
4 quarts of water. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, some red pepper (optional) and cook over medium heat until water
reduces in half. When broth is ready, filter through a sieve, set aside broth and discard that which is left.
In a small saucepan bring to a boil 2 quarts of water and 2 teaspoons of salt.
Add the squid rings and boil for 30 minutes or until tender.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the squid and set aside with a few spoons of the cooking water.
In the same water, add the tentacles, boil for 15 minutes and using a slotted spoon, remove the tentacles and set
aside with a few spoons of the cooking water.
The Clams and Mussels
In a small skillet combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 whole cloves of garlic and sauté over a medium heat until
the garlic is a light golden color. Add clams and sauté until they are open. Using a slotted spoon, remove the
clams from pan and set aside in a bowl.
In the same skillet, place the mussels and cook over a medium heat until they are open. Using a slotted spoon,
remove the mussels and place in the bowl with the clams.
Filter the juice left in skillet using a sieve lined with cheese cloth or paper towelsand pour it in the
bowl with the clams and the mussels.
In a 6 quart sauce pot with a lid, place 3 tablespoons of oil, 4 whole cloves of garlic, the chopped onions
and sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the tomato and cook for an additional 15 minutes, adding some of the broth if it gets too dry, stir
occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the fish starting with the squid without their cooking water, and last the most delicate fish. Add enough broth
to be 2 inches above the fish.
Cover and continue cooking over a low heat, after it simmers 5 minutes add the wine, the shrimps and the saffron
previously dissolved in a few tablespoons of broth.
Cook covered for an additional 2 minutes, add the clams and the mussels with their juice and the parsley; simmer
for additional 3 minutes and check if additional salt is needed.
Remove from heat and transfer the fish to a serving dish, being very careful not to break them, spoon some of the
juice on top. On the side serve remaining sauce in a soup tureen and some plain bruschette made with crusty Italian
bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, hot from the oven.