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Fiskesuppe (Norwegian Fish Soup)

Seafood Soups

It was the one constant everywhere I went in Norway. Fiskesuppe, otherwise known as Norwegian Fish Soup. Every cafe and restaurant had it on their menu. I saw it in Oslo, Kristiansand, Eidfjord, Geiranger and Flam.

Fiskesuppe, a Norwegian fish soup

The ironic and sad part is that I never once had an opportunity to try it.

As much as I enjoyed my recent two-week Norwegian cruise with my family, it was first and foremost a family trip and not a solo foodie adventure as many of my past trips to Southeast Asia have been.

For those of you who’ve gone on cruises, you know that time is often limited in the towns and cities you stop in. You get anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. Our days were packed with sightseeing tours — bus trips, boat trips, and kayak trips — after which we had to get back to the ship before it departed. We’d get light lunches of pastries, snacks, and coffee, but never a real traditional Norwegian meal.

Sometimes we had a little time to walk around the small towns but never enough time to really sit and enjoy a full meal. So yes, it was a little frustrating for me as someone who primarily blogs about soups to not be able to experience Fiskesuppe in its native country.

But it did inspire me to make it once I got home. Of course, like all traditional seafood soup recipes, there are a million different variations and interpretations. In particular, Bergen fish soup recipes are one type of regional variation. After researching and comparing as many recipes as possible, I’ve attempted to highlight some of the more distinct aspects of Fiskesuppe.

Because on the surface, many Norwegian fish soup recipes resemble many seafood chowder recipes, especially a New England fish chowder. The ingredients are quite similar. Even pictures of Fiskesuppe look like many chowder recipes. But there are some key differences. And it’s these differences that make it such an interesting and unique recipe.

What is Fiskesuppe?

Fiskesuppe means fish soup. It’s a traditional Norwegian soup made with cream, root vegetables, local fish, shrimp (and sometimes other shellfish), and seasoned with some interesting things that make it distinctly Norwegian.

Some recipes are quite easy, like a simple creamy salmon soup, and some are quite complex, like the Bergen fish soup variations that tend to involve more ingredients and steps, sort of like a Bourride or Bouillabaisse. This recipe veers towards the former, a more simple and straightforward variation.

Norwegian fish soup, aka Fiskesuppe

Fiskesuppe vs. Fish Chowder

I can’t help but compare the two. After all, I’ve written a book about chowder, published many chowder recipes on this site, and tried every variation you can imagine. Because again, on the surface, they seem quite similar. Both contain root vegetables with cream, chunks of local fish, some herbs, and seasonings. But Fiskesuppe is a little less rustic than fish chowder. In particular, there are five things that set it apart from chowder.

1. Thinly cut vegetables

In a chowder, the vegetables are always roughly chopped and the potatoes are typically cubed. But in Fiskuppe, they’re thinly sliced, even the potatoes. Like so…

sliced veggies for Fiskesuppe

Those are exactly the veggies I’m using in this recipe. We got leeks, fennel, potatoes, and…

2. Carrots

Every variation of Norwegian fish soup I came across, both in Norway and via online recipes, contains carrots. Some chowders also contain them but they’re more of a rarity than a staple ingredient.

3. Shrimp

Similarly, every variation I found also contained shrimp. Also, sometimes multiple types of fish. Fish chowders in the US tend to be more straightforward and contain only one type of fish (often cod or haddock) and usually no shellfish.

4. Sweet and sour flavors

This to me is the biggest difference and what really sets the two apart. Fiskesuppe contains sour cream (or sometimes creme fraiche) and get this, a small splash of vinegar. Yes, vinegar!

This gives the soup a hint of sourness that is not at all part of chowders found in the US. And to balance the sour flavor, Fiskesuppe recipes often contain a little sugar too. I know, sounds strange. But it works beautifully. You just have to try it.

5. Not overly thickened

Some Fiskesuppe recipes do include a flour thickener but most do not. Most fish chowders include a flour-based thickener. That said, I’m a big proponent of not using a thickener in fish chowders because it can easily overpower the key ingredient.

The Key Ingredient

Fish stock!

All authentic Fiskesuppe recipes are made with homemade fish stock. So generally speaking, Fiskesuppe will be a little thinner in consistency compared to fish chowder. But I consider this a good thing. Both Fiskesuppe and fish chowder should have a background flavor of the sea.

Homemade Fish Stock vs. Store-Bought

Homemade is always the best option. You can see how to make it in my comprehensive fish broth post.

There’s also one really good store-bought option. Aneto Fish Broth.

Aneto Seafood Broth

For years, I was against all store-bought seafood stocks. You can see another comprehensive post of mine comparing all the store-bought seafood broth options.

Really, I just diss all of them. Except for Aneto. It’s made only with real ingredients and no chemical flavorings. For this reason, it’s a little pricier. But totally worth it if you don’t want to make your own fish stock. In fact, I used it in this recipe.

More Seafood Soup and Stew Recipes to Try

Why You Should Use American Seafood in Norwegian Fish Soup

Because more than likely, you’re from America. At least, that’s what Google Analytics tells me. Supposedly, 95% of you reading this blog are from America. And we should absolutely be consuming more of our native seafood which is wonderfully sustainable.

Our government, scientists, and fishermen have worked collaboratively for almost 50 years now to sustain our native fisheries through monitoring, catch limits, and quotas. It’s not perfect but it’s working extremely well.

If you’re from somewhere else, choose fish native to your country.

The global seafood trade is harming native fishing economies all around the globe. We don’t need more cheap farmed fish and farmed shrimp flooding markets from halfway around the world which harms our local seafood economies. Choose local seafood. Always.

The great thing about seafood recipes is that most species of fish and shellfish are interchangeable with other species. You can always find something with a similar flavor and texture be it a flaky whitefish, oily dense fish, or some type of shellfish.

Fish for Fiskesuppe

The most common fish found in native Norwegian fish recipes are cod and Atlantic salmon.

I’d encourage you to try something more sustainable and local. While they may thrive in Norwegian waters, here in the US, cod has been overfished and Atlantic salmon is always farmed and mostly imported.

Instead of cod, try haddock, hake, or even better, try Atlantic pollock, which is a close cousin of cod and very abundant. And that’s exactly what I used…

Atlantic pollock. My choice for this Norwegian fish soup recipe.

It looks almost exactly like haddock. It’s also very affordable as it’s not as in demand as other fish species.

For Atlantic salmon alternatives, try striped bass, bluefish, swordfish, or monkfish. And yes, wild Pacific salmon is a good choice too.

How to Make Fiskesuppe

1. Saute the veggies (except the potatoes) in butter

Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat and add the carrots, leeks, and, fennel. Saute them for 5 minutes until they become softened and fragrant.

saute veggies in butter

2. Add the fish stock

You’ll need about four cups fish stock (or 1 quart).

add fish stock

You’ll notice in my pic above that it’s a dark golden-yellow color. This is due to two things. First, the Aneto fish broth has a cloudy appearance. That’s a good thing actually as a real fish broth should have some color from the vegetables and fish itself.

Second, the butter from step 1. I use a good quality pasture-raised butter with a deep yellow color. Poor quality butters are almost pure white signifying a lack of nutrients and a poor diet by the cows.

3. Add the potatoes

Since they’re sliced, they cook quicker than if they’re roughly chopped or cubed. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until they’re tender.

4. Add the fish and shrimp

add fish and shrimp

Add the fish first and simmer for a few minutes. And then add the shrimp and simmer for a few more minutes until they turn pink and are cooked through.

5. Add the heavy cream

Stir it in and mix well.

6. Dilute and add the sour cream

In a separate bowl, add the sour cream and a scoop or two of the hot broth. Mix well until the sour cream takes on a thinner consistency, like so…

dilute the sour cream with fish stock

Add it to the soup and mix well until it’s thoroughly dissolved into the soup. Taste. It should have a delicate but noticeable sour flavor. You can add a little more sour cream if desired.

7. Salt, to taste

Do this first before step 8 below. Getting the saltiness right first will help you better determine the balance of sugar and vinegar. But be careful not to oversalt as the fish, fish stock, and shrimp will have a natural salinity.

8. Add vinegar and sugar, to taste

Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar and about 1 teaspoon of white organic sugar. Taste. Add more of each, until you get a good balance between sour and sweet. But be very careful not to overdo either one! Just a little of each is all you should need.

9. Ladle into bowls and add optional seasonings, to taste

Optional seasonings include a little more salt, some freshly ground white or black pepper, freshly chopped dill, freshly chopped chives, and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Fiskesuppe (Norwegian Fish Soup) Full Recipe

Fiskesuppe (Norwegian Fish Soup)

Fiskesuppe is a delicious creamy Norwegian fish soup with root vegetables, herbs, and sour cream, all balanced with a little vinegar and sugar for some wonderful sweet and sour flavors
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseMain Course
CuisineNorwegian
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings4 servings
Calories714kcal
AuthorCraig Fear

Ingredients

  • 1 pound haddock or hake, or Atlantic pollock, or fish of your choice
  • 1/2 pound shrimp wild, peeled
  • 4 TBSPs butter
  • 2 carrots peeled, cut into thin, short strips
  • 1 small fennel bulb cored, cut into thin, short strips
  • 1 leek top half discarded (the green leafy part), thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled, cut into thin, short strips
  • 1 quart fish stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar or slightly more, to taste
  • 1 pinch sugar or slightly more, to taste

Seasonings, to taste

  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly chopped dill
  • freshly chopped chives
  • squeeze fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Heat the butter in a pot and add the carrots, leeks, and, fennel. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes until softened and fragrant.
  • Add the fish stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the potatoes and cook for 5 mins or until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Add the fish and simmer for at least 5 mins or until fish is cooked through.
  • Add the shrimp and simmer for a few more minutes until it turns pink and is cooked through
  • Add the heavy cream
  • In a separate bowl, add the sour cream and a scoop or two of the hot broth. MIx well until the sour cream takes on a thinner consistency. Add it to the soup and mix well until it's thoroughly dissolved into the soup.
  • Salt, to taste
  • Add 1 tsp vinegar and about 1 tsp sugar. Taste. Add more of each, until you get a good balance between sour and sweet. Be careful not to overdo either one! Just a little of each is all should need.
  • Ladle into individual bowls and add optional seasonings, to taste.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups (1 bowl) | Calories: 714kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 284mg | Sodium: 1248mg | Potassium: 1638mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 7204IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 3mg
Fearless Eating may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. More info here.
Fiskesuppe (Norwegian Fish Soup)
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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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