Fish soup with capsicum polenta

Good stock provides the flavour base for this delicate broth. When homemade stock is not available, try one of the high–quality commercial stocks rather than a stock cube. The polenta accompaniment is prepared in advance, so the soup is simple to cook at the last minute.

Fish soup with capsicum polenta


  • 1 litre fish stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • zest of 1 lemon, finely shredded or coarsely grated
  • 1 French shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, halved and seeded (optional)
  • 500 g skinless white fish fillet, cut into bite–sized chunks
  • salt
  • pepper
  • leaves from the fennel bulb, herb fennel or fresh dill to garnish
  • 2 red capsicums, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cups (200 g) instant polenta
  • ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated parmesan


  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Grill the capsicums, skin side up, for about 10 minutes or until blistered and blackened.
  3. Put in a plastic bag and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Peel off the skins; cut lengthwise into 5 mm wide strips.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Cook the polenta with the salt according to the instructions on the packet.
  7. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it is thick.
  8. Sprinkle a plastic chopping board or tray with water and turn the polenta out onto it.
  9. Use a wet palette knife to spread out the polenta into a rectangle about 1 cm thick.
  10. Arrange the strips of capsicum diagonally on top, gently pressing them into the polenta.
  11. Wet a sharp knife, then trim the edges of the polenta rectangle.
  12. Leave to cool.
  13. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a baking tray.
  14. Sprinkle the parmesan over the polenta rectangle and cut it into 16 sticks.
  15. Transfer the polenta sticks to the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  16. Leave to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  17. For the soup, pour the stock into a saucepan.
  18. Tie the bay leaf, parsley and thyme together into a bouquet garni and add to the pan with the celery, fennel, carrots, lemon zest, shallot, garlic and chilli, if using.
  19. Heat gently until boiling, then simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly tender.
  20. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
  21. Leave to stand for 10–20 minutes.
  22. Discard the bouquet garni and chilli halves.
  23. Bring the liquid back to the boil.
  24. Reduce the heat, then poach the fish for 4 minutes or until it is opaque and flakes easily.
  25. Season to taste.
  26. Transfer the polenta sticks to a plate.
  27. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the fennel leaves or dill.
  28. Serve at once.

Serves 4
Preparation: about 30 minutes, plus about 1.5 hours cooling and 10-20 minutes infusing
Cooking: about 40 minutes


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