• Yield: 4 servings

This is an everyday Catalan fish soup that is more like a stew. It has several variants, but I love the way my friend Pepa Aymami makes it. Like so many Catalan dishes, it starts with a sofregit (sofrito in Castilian Spanish) of garlic and tomato, and a picada of ground almonds, garlic, and parsley is stirred in at the end. Use hake, cod, halibut, or other firm white fish.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 1 pound waxy potatoes, cut into L-inch-thick slices

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • About 1 1/2 cups fish or chicken stock

  • Salt

  • A good pinch of saffron threads

  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 pound firm white skinless fish fillets (see headnote)

  • 1/2 pound medium or large peeled shrimp

For the Picada:

  • 10unblanched whole almonds

  • 1 largegarlic clove

  • 1 1/2 teaspoonsolive oil

  • 1 tablespoonchopped flat-leaf parsley


Heat the oil in a wide casserole. Put in the garlic and tomato and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the tomato is reduced to a jammy sauce.

Add the potatoes, wine, and enough stock to cover the potatoes, then add salt to taste, the saffron, and the sugar and simmer, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.

Meanwhile, for the picada, fry the almonds and garlic clove in the oil in a small skillet until both are lightly brown; drain on paper towels. The usual way is to crush and grind these to a paste in a mortar with the parsley, but you can use a food processor; add a ladleful of the stock to dilute it.

Put the fish in the soup and cook for 3 minutes (5 minutes if using monkfish). Add the shrimp and picada and cook until the shrimp turn pink and the fish is opaque throughout.

Reprinted with permission from Food of Spain by Claudia Roden

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Claudia Roden is a chef, food writer and author. She has written several books on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, most recently The Book of Jewish Food, which won a James Beard award.