Coconut Fish Soup with Red Palm Oil


This gorgeous fish soup is quick and easy to make, rich in flavor, and filled with healthy fats. It’s also really delicious; a weeknight meal you’ll want to make over and over again But the real reason to check out this recipe is that it’s a perfect example of how (and why) you should cook with unrefined red palm oil.

Unrefined red palm oil is incredibly dense with antioxidants and vitamins. Full-spectrum Vitamin E, co-enzyme Q10, betacarotenes, vitamin A, and vitamin K…they’re all there in abundance. There’s no secret to cooking with red palm oil, just use it in the same way that you use coconut oil, butter or olive oil. Sauté anything in red palm oil (meat, seafood, veggies, eggs), use palm oil to roast vegetables, or add it to soups or stews.

In this recipe, red palm oil is added at the end to give the soup broth an incredibly rich, velvety texture. But what about the flavor, you ask? It’s true that the strong flavor of unrefined red palm oil can take some getting use to. If you find it off-putting, then look for brands like Nutiva (our favorite) that put the oil through a cold-filtration process that mellows the flavor considerably. Nutiva’s unrefined red palm oil has such a mild flavor that it’s barely even noticeable.


Whichever brand you buy make sure it’s unrefined red palm oil, which delivers the most nutrients. To insure that your purchase of palm oil is not harmful to wildlife and does not contribute to deforestation or habitat destruction, look for brands that are orangutan-safe and habitat friendly.

This coconut fish soup with red palm oil is really great when made with firm-fleshed white fish (like halibut), but can also be made with salmon, shrimp or mussels.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes


  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless fish, cut into 2-inch pieces (680 g/5 cm)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
  • Juice from 2 limes (about ¼ cup) (60 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (30 ml)
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup fish or chicken stock (240 ml)
  • 1 13.5 fl oz can full-fat coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined red palm oil (30 ml)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro (60 ml)


In a large bowl, season the fish with salt and pour the lime juice on top. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic and onion. Sauté until onion is soft, 5 minutes.

Add bell pepper and tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, then add the stock, coconut milk and palm oil. Bring to a boil, then add the fish and lime juice.

Simmer until fish is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add salt to taste and top with cilantro.


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23 thoughts on “Coconut Fish Soup with Red Palm Oil”

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  1. So I am new to Primal and am having big successes with weight loss. I am looking at this recipe for Coonut Fish Soup with red palm oil, and would like to try making it (and trying some other recipes). Am I missing nutrition infor somewhere? I am all about keeping my carbs between the 50-100 per day. How do I calculate that if it’s not listed, or are these recipes for people further along who are not tracking the carbs?

    Any input is greatly appreciated.

    Thank You

    1. It’s clearly a low carb dish. Primal is not really about counting carbs, rather about eating the right foods. Don’t overthink it. If you want, just put the ingredients on myfitnesspal or some other tracker.

      1. Jason,
        I agree that Primal isn’t about counting carbs but I counted them for the first few months to get a feel for how many carbs I was actually ingesting. If you are new, like Joseph is, then I would definitely count carbs. Even eating “low carb” it is easy to creep well above 100 if you’ve never limited your carbs before.

        Joseph, I (personally) did and would keep doing what you are doing. Like Angela said below use (its an app as well as website) to get a good feel for the nutritional info. You will get where Jason and Shary are (and both are correct) but until then keep doing what you are doing.

    2. Congratulations on your success, Joseph, but Jason is right. Carb counting shouldn’t become your life’s work. Taking the time to learn, in general, which foods are high-carb and which ones aren’t is definitely worthwhile. That way you don’t need to rely on nutritional info. Instead you can scan any recipe and know immediately if it’s something you want to eat.

    3. Joseph…are you on There’s a recipe function where you can plug in the web address of a recipe (like this one!) and the calories/carbs will be pulled up for you. (It’s not fail safe, you may need to tweak the amounts a little.) I use it often and it’s really helpful.

  2. Figure carbs: if you put in 2 average plum tomatoes is 2.4 (net) carbs and 5.3 ounces of bell pepper(about a cup) =6.3 (net) carbs, + 28 carbs in the coconut milk, 1 carb in chicken stock, 2 carbs from the lime juice,so figure 39 (round up to 40 for easy math) net carbs total. Divide by 4 = 10 carbs/serving. Hope that helps.

  3. Nutrition Facts
    Servings 4.0
    Amount Per Serving
    calories 522
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 38 g 58 %
    Saturated Fat 27 g 137 %
    Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
    Trans Fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 62 mg 21 %
    Sodium 359 mg 15 %
    Potassium 553 mg 16 %
    Total Carbohydrate 16 g 5 %
    Dietary Fiber 3 g 10 %
    Sugars 6 g
    Protein 34 g 69 %
    Vitamin A 46 %
    Vitamin C 153 %
    Calcium 3 %
    Iron 19 %

  4. Scrumptious!

    Between all the good oils, butter and Ghee, I’ve been putting off getting red palm oil; No more excuses 🙂

  5. I tried Red Palm oil once. What a mess. I’d rather use coconut oil and not have red stains all over my kitchen surfaces.

  6. Yes, it can be a real (red) mess, but I found the stains came out pretty easily. i don’t use it for all cooking, but it is nice to have around for some things.

  7. I bought red palm oil weeks ago and haven’t figured out what to do with it. Now I know. I’m off to my co-op to make this for dinner.

  8. As pretty as this dish looks, I would need to do a lot of tweaking for myself and my family. We don’t particularly like the taste of coconut, and I’ve never tried red palm oil. I would probably chicken out and opt for butter and a little heavy cream instead. I guess I’d have to change the name to something with less pizazz…such as Plain Old Fish Soup. Oh well, it would still taste good.

  9. Made this with basil instead of cilantro tonight. SO delicious!!

    1. Mr. Burgundy,

      Thank you so much for the clam juice recommendation!.

  10. Delicious!! The red palm oil made the soup so silky. I recommend serving it with hot sauce.

    Thank you!

  11. A couple of notes about this recipe.

    First of all, it is clear that the 6 minute cook time after adding the fish is way too long. I turned the heat off after 4 minutes, and the fish fell apart anyway. I think 2 minutes of heat after adding the fish is plenty.

    Secondly, unless you like crunchy soup, add the red bell pepper in with the onion and cook them both at least 5 minutes. Even 7 or 8 minutes would be fine, then add the tomato and cook another 5.

    Thirdly, I felt compelled to add lemongrass. It just seemed right to me. So I bought a pouch of Saffron Road brand lemongrass basil simmer sauce, and added that to the soup at the same time I added the fish stock and coconut milk.

    The end result was delicious! I will definitely make this again.

    1. It depends how thick and sturdy the fish is. I used Cod (cheap), and simmered it at least 6 minutes, probably 10; and re-heated it again the next day, it was great. I could see Flounder or Sole falling apart, though.

  12. I made this soup and it was delicious! I used Mahi Mahi but I could see that shrimp would work well also. This is now my favorite soup.