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11 Feb

Fish Soup in Tomato-Saffron Broth with Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

As mentioned in the recent article on sulfur-rich vegetables earlier this week, the best and easiest way to cook sulfur-rich veggies is steaming until “tough-tender.” Top with some form of fat – butter, olive oil, animal – and you have a simple and delicious side dish. Inevitably, however, the day will come when you’ll be staring at a plate of steamed broccoli and butter thinking, there’s got to be more ways to dress up sulfur-rich veggies.

And you’re right – there are. When you’re feeling more ambitious, steam your favorite sulfur-rich veggies as usual, then turn them into a one-bowl meal by smothering or lightly covering them in a flavorful sauce or broth. One delicious example: a bowl of steamed broccoli and cauliflower becomes an entire meal when fish soup in a tomato-saffron broth is ladled on top. Garnish with shredded cabbage that will soften slightly in the hot broth and you’ve got yourself some sulfur-rich soup…a name that doesn’t do justice to how deeply flavorful and tasty this meal is. The light tomato broth can be made creamier by adding coconut milk – your choice – and the soup works well with either firm white fish or fatty salmon.

Crisp, steamed veggies added at the end taste so much better than those that have been cooked to death in soup or sauce. Plus, you can steam veggies ahead of time and have them ready in the fridge to combine with so many meals. Add “ladled over steamed sulfur-rich vegetables” to the end of any of these recipes, and you’ll see how many possibilities there are:

Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce
Savory Goat Stew
Chicken and Shrimp Soup
Ginger Soup with Scallops and Shrimp

And don’t forget about steamed cauliflower rice, the perfect sulfur-rich base for so many meals:

Curry Meatballs in Creamy-Tomato Coconut Sauce
Sesame Chicken and Rice with Fiery Ginger and Chile Sauce
Kangaroo Loin with Coconut Cauliflower

If you thought adding sulfur-rich vegetables to your diet was going to be hard, hopefully these recipes prove otherwise. Just slip them in with whatever else you’re cooking – and the meal will be better for it.

Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (no salt added) with liquid or 4-6 fresh tomatoes, chopped with liquid
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 4 cups of water
  • Generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 pound of fish (skin removed) such as salmon or firm, white-fleshed fish like Pacific halibut, tilapia, or Pacific cod cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower or broccoli (or a combination) broken into small florets
  • 2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional addition: 1 can of coconut milk


Melt butter in a deep, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté a few minutes. Add garlic and sauté just one minute more then add tomatoes and tomato paste, dried dill and fresh parsley. Simmer rapidly, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, about 15 minutes.

Add water. Bring to a gentle boil then add saffron. Simmer gently with a cover for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Get your steamer going and steam broccoli and/or cauliflower until tender but not mushy.

Add the fish to the broth and simmer without a lid for 3-5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk if using. Ladle over steamed veggies. Garnish with cabbage.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Looks absolutely luscious…and I’m getting hungry!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on February 13th, 2012
  2. Sounds great and looks even better! So appreciate the artful photos that accompany the recipes here.

    rarebird wrote on February 13th, 2012
  3. If you’re doing the fish soup thing, I’d suggest using a fish broth! Cut down the simmering time to 20 minutes, and toss in fish bones and heads. You can also throw in the shells and heads of shrimp! After the 20 minutes are up, remove the bones and heads and proceed with the recipe.

    Yonatan wrote on February 13th, 2012
  4. I make a fish stew/soup that my daughter found on the internet called Dad’s Fish Stew and it called for clam juice as some of the liquid. I like it because it only takes about a half hour to make. In winter I use canned tomatoes instead of fresh.

    Lynna wrote on February 13th, 2012
  5. I like Yonatan’s idea of fish broth. I just made a ton of chicken broth yesterday, so after all of my stock runs out, fish broth may be next 😉

    Robert wrote on February 13th, 2012
  6. And the great thing about fish broth is you can generally get the bones free from your fishmonger.

    Debra wrote on February 13th, 2012
  7. Yet another delicious sounding recipe from MDA.

    Nick wrote on February 14th, 2012
  8. I actually cooked this recipe yesterday (with scampi and lobster broth instead of pure water) and could have cried out that happy I was about the taste. Very recommendable!

    Christine Labdi wrote on February 15th, 2012
  9. I used fire roasted tomatoes and this was absolutely delicious

    Mishel Fletcher wrote on February 21st, 2012
  10. Made this tonight with Mahi Mahi. So very yummy!

    Steve wrote on March 12th, 2012
  11. Makin it right now, smells delish and can not wait to eat it up. Got to use my fresh herbs from my garden that are in huge bloom.

    Andrew wrote on June 16th, 2012
    • Used Cod

      Andrew wrote on June 16th, 2012
  12. I tried to make fish broth today for the first time and I’m not sure I did it right. It doesn’t taste good, but maybe I’m just not used to the taste of fish broth… I had a fish head with spine and in searching the web about how to do it I found the recommendation to remove the gills, but I couldn’t find the gills, and the eyes freaked me out so I just cut off the head and used only the spine. The recipes I found only simmered it for 45 minutes saying to be careful not to bring to a boil… I probably simmered it for an hour maybe two. Any helpful hints for making fish broth or links to share? Thanks!!

    Meredith wrote on November 24th, 2012
    • So this is probably not going to be useful due to the date but I have made fish soup with the head for years.
      The gills are the hardest part to remove and you need really good kitchen scissors. You will find the gills when you life the flap on the “cheek” it looks like a filter and there is a bit of cartilage that you have to hack through. You do not want to cook with the gills, will make a bitter soup.
      I have always brought mine up to a boil and then simmered for 2 hours or so. I throw huge chunks of fresh tomato, fresh bunch cilantro, 1 poblano or green pepper, 2 onions in large chunks, and several garlic cloves (a small head). When it is done, you strain out the other stuff and have a great broth. I personally add the 1 or 2 pkts of Goya Sazon (the orange kind) but that is a recent addition and might not be “clean ingredient.” Sometimes after strained, you bring to a low boil for 3 minutes, serve piping hot and put handful of fresh spinach. I like a small squeeze of lemon.

      Jessica wrote on January 6th, 2014
  13. I cook this recipe with salmon and I use can tomatoes and a couple of fresh tomatoes as well, instead of pure water I use a can of coconut milk and taste delicious.

    Lupita wrote on December 5th, 2013
  14. Very quick & tasty. Added a pinch of chilli power & some chilli flakes for extra zing.

    Andrea wrote on March 1st, 2014

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