Delicious Fish Soup

This is based roughly on bouillabaisse – a classic that has been replicated, refined and reproduced so many times it is now a luxurious dish that is a far cry from its humble origins. We love this because it feels great to eat and utilises incredibly nutritious fish frames that are often discarded.

Recipe Ben Barton of Scarecrow, Auckland. Photography Aimee Finlay-Magne

Serves 8 to 12   

Fish stock

1kg white fish frames and heads (snapper, gurnard, cod), gills removed
2 onions, peeled
1 stick celery
1 small bulb fennel
handful parsley stalks
bay leaf
strip of orange zest
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
pinch saffron threads


pinch saffron 
½ glass white wine
100ml olive oil
2 onions, roughly diced
1 stick celery, diced
1  medium bulb fennel, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
2 litres fresh fish stock
selection of fresh seafood (for poaching)

Fish Stock
Roughly cut the vegetables. Place all the ingredients in a stock pot, cover with water and bring up to a simmer. Skim any foam from the surface then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and cool. Refrigerate for up to three days or freeze.

Lightly crush the saffron into the wine using a mortar and pestle and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery and fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, increase the heat and add the wine and saffron mixture, the diced tomatoes and fish stock. Boil rapidly for five minutes to emulsify the oil into the broth.

Add a selection of fresh seafood to poach in the soup or fry a skin-on fillet until the skin is crispy. New season potatoes cooked in the fish broth are great at the moment too.

Ben Barton of gourmet café and ‘urban farmers’ market’ Scarecrow, in central Auckland, focuses on local, seasonal produce in his dishes. Previously, Barton spent two years creating pop-up dining events in Auckland and before that travelled the world while cooking in the galleys of super yachts. 

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