How to make delicious Trinidad fish broth (fish soup)

3.3.24 | Recipe by Renz

A mouthwatering recipe, bursting with vibrant flavors and influenced by rich culinary traditions, this aromatic fish broth is a true treasure. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your apron, and get ready to dive into simmering spices, fresh fish, various vegetables, and a whole lot of island flair. Let's get cooking!

A full bowl of finished fish broth in a white bowl on a blue and white backdrop.

Fish Broth, locally known as fish Brof in Trinidad and Tobago and might also be referred to as fish tea, is a traditional soup rich in flavor and packed with nutrients. This hearty soup is made with seasoned fish, fresh vegetables, garlic, and a blend of local herbs.

The key to making a delicious fish broth is to use well-seasoned fish that has been marinated with green seasoning, and a mixture of herbs including fresh thyme, garlic, and hot peppers. Other ingredients include bell peppers, scotch bonnet pepper, and a variety of ground provisions and fresh vegetables such as green onion and green fig, which help to add depth and flavor to the broth.

In Caribbean households, soup is eaten every day at any time, especially on a Saturday. Soup Saturday is no joke.

One taste of this and you will understand why this bowl of soup, though considered a "poor man's dish" is well worth the effort.


Why you would want to eat this fish broth?

Fish broth is a type of soup everyone must try.

Picture this: tender pieces of perfectly cooked fish swimming in a fragrant, savory broth infused with the essence of fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs. Every spoonful is a delightful blend of tangy tomatoes, earthy onions, sweet provisions, and the subtle heat of peppers.

The combination of herbs adds a comforting warmth, while the optional pepper brings a fiery kick for those who dare to embrace the heat. The broth itself is rich and deeply satisfying, a harmonious medley of flavors that will have you yearning for that next spoonful.

Each bite becomes a vibrant, refreshing experience with a squeeze of zesty lime. Whether you're a seafood lover or simply seeking a comforting bowl of goodness, fish broth is the perfect dish.

Trini fish soup benefits

Fish broth is not only a flavorful dish in the Caribbean culture, but it is also believed to be an elixir for all illnesses. This soup is unique from other soups because of its light and tasty nature, and its ability to not thicken like other soups. The secret to its flavor is the well-seasoned and marinated fish.

Apart from its delicious taste, it provides several benefits to individuals. For those on a calorie diet, fish soup offers a perfect meal as it is low in calories and high in protein. It is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids essential for brain development and improves heart health. This is because the soup is usually made using fish which is known to be high in protein and low in fat.

It is also a nutritious meal that offers different nutrients and minerals beneficial to our health. Vegetables such as bell peppers, green onions, and fresh herbs used in preparing the soup add different nutrients to an already healthful soup. For instance, bell peppers are high in vitamin C, while green onions are rich in vitamin K.

What is Trini fish broth made of?

This light and flavorful soup is made using a variety of ingredients. Here are some key ingredients and points to keep in mind to make sure you get that rich flavor.

Ingredients needed to make fish broth on a silver tray.

Fish - One of the key ingredients in this soup is well-seasoned fish. The use of well-seasoned fresh fish has two roles - to add flavor to the soup and to provide an excellent protein source. It is best to use fish fillets that are about 1-inch pieces in size. I like using kingfish or red snapper for this.

Green seasoning - Fresh green seasoning, which is a combination of fresh herbs and vegetables, is another essential ingredient. It adds a unique flavor to the soup that is hard to replicate with any other seasoning. You can make your seasoning, my recipe is here, or use the bottled store version.

Fresh herbs and spices - Onion and garlic cloves are commonly used as they both add depth of flavor to the soup. Fresh Thyme is another herb that is used in the soup, and it adds an earthy and slightly sweet flavor along with some chadon beni. Pimento pepper, and scotch bonnet peppers had additional flavors and heat. Cilantro is great to garnish.

Vegetables: like carrots, celery, and tomatoes, okra, tomatoes

Ground provision - a variety of root vegetables like cassava, sweet potato, green banana, potato, dasheen, small eddoes, and green figs are also used to make the soup hearty and filling.

Additionals: lime juice, coconut oil or butter, salt, and pepper, oil, golden ray.

Optional: pasta (preferably macaroni) or dumplings.

See the full list of ingredients and quantities in the recipe card below.

How to make fish broth

Now, my friends, you are ready to savor the heartwarming flavors of fish broth. This recipe is a celebration of Caribbean cuisine that can be enjoyed by cooks of any level.

  1. Wash the fish out with lime and water and discard any of that water. You can soak the fish in lime water for about 5 minutes. Then rinse that water off.
  2. Then season the fish with salt, green seasoning, and black pepper. Cover and leave to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  3. While the fish is marinating, cut off the tops and bottoms of the green banana, cover it in water, and put it to a boil. Add a little bit of vegetable oil to the water. This helps to minimize the secretion of oils from the banana into the water. Boil until tender. Use a fork to pierce to check for doneness. Peel and set aside when boiled.
  4. In another deep-bottomed soup pot, on medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil (or melt the butter) and saute the cut veggies: onions, garlic cloves, celery, scallions, and pimento peppers for about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the carrots, some green seasoning, and potatoes, and mix.
  6. Continue adding ingredients: water, thyme, okra, and a whole hot pepper. Bring everything to a boil and stir the contents of the pot.
  7. Boil until vegetables are tender. This may take about 15 - 20 minutes.
  8. If using macaroni, add a few sticks of the uncooked pasta to the boiling water now. Then stir the contents of the pot.
  9. Add the seasoned fish slices, tomatoes, and green bananas, and reduce the heat to medium heat until the fish is cooked. This would be about 6 - 8 minutes.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to suit your taste buds, adjusting the flavors as you see fit.
  11. Ladle the flavorful broth into bowls, making sure to include plenty of fish, veggies, and aromatic goodness in each serving.
  12. To add that final burst of freshness and additional flavor, squeeze some juice of a lime over each bowl of fish broth. This tangy touch will awaken all the flavors and brighten up the dish. Top it off with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro for a touch of vibrant color.

Frequently Asked Questions:

As I share this delicious recipe with you, I wanted to take a moment to address some of the frequently asked questions that often pop up when it comes to making this delectable dish.

In this FAQ section, I'll answer some of the common doubts and concerns you may have about preparing this fish broth.

From choosing the right fish to adjusting the level of spiciness and even tips on storing leftovers, I've got you covered. Let's dive into the Q&A and ensure that your journey toward making the perfect fish broth is filled with confidence and delicious success!

Finished simmered fish soup in a large silver pot.

Difference between fish soup and fish broth?

Fish soup and fish stock/broth are both popular, but they have several key differences. When it comes to fish-based dishes, several people are often confused about the difference between fish soup and fish broth. Although these terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Fish broth, which you may also hear called fish soup or fish tea, is a light and flavorful local soup that is often eaten as a main meal. It is made by simmering seasoned fish, vegetables, and herbs in water until the flavors meld together. The result is a delicious and fragrant soup.

In contrast, fish stock/broth is made by simmering fish bones and water together to create a flavorful base for other dishes. It is not meant to be eaten on its own but rather used as a foundation for soups, stews, and sauces. Fish stock is often made with bony fish, such as kingfish or carite, to maximize its flavor and nutritional value.

The broth can be strained and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later use in recipes. Unlike fish soup, which has several ingredients and a heartier composition, fish broth has a pure and clean flavor that works well in seafood-based recipes.

The main difference between the two is the use of ingredients. While fish soup uses seasoned fish and vegetables to create a complete meal, fish stock uses only fish bones and water to create a base for other dishes.

Fish soup is a light meal that can be enjoyed even if you’re feeling unwell, while fish stock is an ingredient that’s used in other dishes to provide a burst of flavor.

The preparation of fish broth requires mainly fish bones and water. Conversely, making fish soup requires more ingredients like different types of fish, green bananas, bell peppers, and onions. Fish soup does not use only the fish's bones and flesh; instead, it makes use of the whole fish or fish pieces to extract flavor.

What is the best fish to make fish broth?

When it comes to making this dish, selecting the right type of fish is crucial for getting the best flavor. Many types of fish can be used in fish broth, but if you want to create a truly delicious dish, it's important to choose the right fish.

One of the best options is meaty fish like King fish, Carite, and Cavalli. These types of fish have a good amount of flesh on them that will add depth and flavor to your broth. They are also easy to clean and not overly bony, making them an ideal choice for anyone looking to make a delicious and satisfying fish broth.

Another popular option is firm fish, such as cod, haddock, or halibut. These types of fish have a mild flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients commonly used to make fish broth, such as garlic, lime juice, and black pepper.

It's important to avoid bony fish or fish with many scales, as they can be more difficult to clean and may create a less enjoyable eating experience.

A full white bowl full of ground provision and fish and other veegetables.

Best way to store leftover fish soup?

After enjoying a delicious bowl of fish soup, it's important to properly store any leftovers to ensure that they remain fresh and safe to consume. The best way to store is to cool it completely before transferring it to an airtight container and placing it in the refrigerator.

To cool the soup, simply leave it to sit at room temperature for a short period before transferring it to the refrigerator. It's important not to place hot soup directly in the refrigerator as this can lead to bacteria growth and cause foodborne illness.

When placing the soup in the airtight container, ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent air from getting in and causing the soup to spoil faster. Label the container with the date the soup was made and stored to keep track of how long it has been in the fridge.

It's recommended to consume leftover fish soup within 4 days of storing it in the fridge. When reheating the soup, it's essential to do it slowly and do not overheat as this can cause the fish to break apart or become overcooked.

What other additional ingredients can I use?

This fish soup recipe is just a base for you to start with. You are free to add or omit things to your liking. Here are a few substitutions that come to mind:

you can use some vegetable broth or cups of fish stock instead of water to add additional layers of flavor to the dish.

I love having macaroni in fish broth. The fatty pasta holds the flavor of the soup and adds a nice different texture to the combination. Make sure to break them up into small pieces when you add them to the pot.

You can adjust the kinds of ground provisions and vegetables to more or less of what you like. Try also including pumpkin, corn or corn kernels, and even plantains. Just be mindful of adding too much so that you don't have a very thick soup.

You do not have to use just slices of fish to make this dish. You can use whole small fish, body parts, the fishtail, or just the fish head. Try to have the pieces around the same size so that they can all cook at the same time.

Finished fish broth served to eat with lime slices.

Here are my favorite soups:

And here are some other seafood dishes