Danube flows through the very heart of Serbia and through its capital, Belgrade where in its very center meets river Sava at its confluence. Besides being one of the symbols of Belgrade, it also cultivates the whole another world of fisherman and river houses built along its shores, mostly hidden even for locals. During summer, the fisherman organise competitions for the best made Danube river fish soup. One summer, while visiting my grandparents in Smederevo, medieval town situated on the coast of the river, I bumped into one of these. Walking through the spicy fumes with my aunt, she introduces me to her acquaintance, a high school teacher and hobby fisherman who wins that year’s competition. This is his champion recipe:
Dunav fishermen’s soup
- Prep Time
- Cook Time
- Difficulty Level easy
- 1kg mixed river fish: carp, catfish, barbel, perch, pike
- 100ml sunflower oil, or pork lard
- 2 bay leafs
- 5 peppercorns
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 parsnip root, chopped (optional)
- 100g celery root (or white part of stem)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tbs sweet red paprika powder
- 1/2 tbs hot paprika powder
- 1/2 cayenne pepper, whole
- 1 tomato, chopped·water (1 litres)
- bunch of parsley
- few basil leaves
- 1 tsp thyme
- Pinch of anise seed
- Salt, pepper
- 200ml tomato juice
- 1tbs red wine vinegar
- Make fish stock:
- In a deep pot, place barbel, pike and white fish , cover with water and cook for 30 minutes on low fire. When the meat starts falling off the bones, strain the broth and reserve the fish. Reserve the stock.
- Heat the olive oil in the kettle, and put the peppercorns and bay leaves to be fried in oil for a minute.
- Add onion, carrot, parsnip, celery and fry till the translucent for a few minutes. Add 1 cup of water and continue cooking till the vegetables turn into a mash. Add hot paprika powder, garlic, hot paprika powder and continue cooking for another few minutes. Cover with 1 l of hot water and cook for 20 minutes on strong fire.
- Add mashed tomato and 1.5l of fish stock and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Add the cleaned fish reserved from the stock, tomato juice along with the spices: parsley, basil, thyme, anise seed, salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking for another 10 min.6. In the end add catfish and carp cut in steaks and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, then season with vinegar. To check if the soup is done, place your palm above the pot and if the fumes make your palm sticky- you are all set!