Caldo de Pescado (Mexican Fish Soup)

Caldo de Pescado is a delicious Mexican fish soup very popular during the Lent season. Is made of tender fish and vegetables simmered in a hearty broth made of chilies, tomatoes, and spices.

Caldo de pescado, aka Mexican fish soup, served in deep plates with lime wedges on the side.

What is caldo de pescado?

Caldo de pescado is one of the easiest dishes you’ll ever try. This recipe is the Mexican version of fish soup and is hearty, packed with flavor, and incredibly comforting.

You can say this recipe is different from other soups because it involves a deliciously spicy tomato sauce, usually made with chile guajillo and chipotle.

Mexican fish soup is a staple during Lent when it’s customary to not eat meat and most of the Mexican Cuaresma Recipes are either vegetarian or made of fish and seafood.

Mexican fish soup caldo de pescado served in a deep plate with lime wedges on the side.

What Type of Fish to Use

Though caldo de pescado can be done with different fish, it’s important to choose the right kind. Mexican fish soup calls for firm white fish, such as cod or halibut. Snapper, tilapia, and catfish are also good options.

The only thing you want to avoid is delicate, flaky, or oily fish such as tuna or salmon. This type of fish will not hold well during cooking and the Mexican fish soup needs to have good chunks of fish meat. That’s part of what makes it so hearty!

When buying fish, look for fo those with natural metallic glow skin and a mild scent. Avoid fish that has a strong or a sour smell.

Related: How to tell if a fish is fresh.

Useful Tips Before Starting

There are many different things you can do to make sure your caldo de pescado is as authentic and flavorful as possible. Here are some of the best tips you can follow before making this recipe: 

  • Use fish heads. Fish heads are packed with flavor, so they are a very important part of the broth. I recommend you cut them in half to get the most flavor out of them. *You can always take them out of the soup before serving if you don’t plan on eating them
  • Use ripe tomatoes. Make sure the tomatoes you pick for the sauce are nice and ripe so the broth will be not only flavorful but achieve a bright red color too.
  • Always cook the vegetables first. Fish is quite delicate and it doesn’t take long to cook, so it’s the last thing you add. Except for the fish heads, which are added to the soup before the fish meat so they can provide as much flavor as possible.
  • Balance spices. When it comes to spices, you shouldn’t overdo it. The natural flavors of the fish and the vegetables shouldn’t be drowned out. The key to a good Mexican fish soup is a balance of flavors. 
  • Avoid overcooking the fish meat. When you add the fish, you should wait for the soup to boil and then bring the heat down. Allow the soup to simmer until the fish is cooked and don’t stir often to keep the meat from breaking.

How To Make It

Remove the guajillo chilies stems, cut them longwise, and discard the seeds and veins. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place them over high heat and bring them to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are soft and their skin is falling off.

Turn off the heat, add guajillo chiles and, with a spoon, push them down to immerse them well into the hot water. Allow resting for 15 minutes.

Boiled tomatoes and soaked guajillo chilies in a pot.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables needed to make the recipe and place them in a bowl. Make sure to cut them more or less the same size so they will cook at the same time.

Vegetables for caldo de pescado cut into bites.

Add tomatoes and guajillo chilies into a blender or food processor. Add chipotle chilies, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and 1 cup of water.

Ingredients for sauce for caldo de pescado.

Blend at high speed for 1 minute or until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.

Straining guajillo sauce into a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and sauté for 3 minutes.

Vegetables sautéed in a pot.

Pour in the tomato sauce and season with salt. Add shrimp bouillon and oregano. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.

Vegetables with tomato and chile sauce and seasonings in a pot.

Next, add 6 cups of water and cilantro. Mix, and bring to a boil.

Water added to the pot with vegetables and sauce.

Now, if you are adding fish heads and tails to the soup, this is the time to add them as they can start releasing their flavor right away, otherwise, keep cooking the vegetables for 10 more minutes before the next step.

After 10 minutes have passed, add the fish chunks to the pot, set heat to high to bring the soup to a boil.

Adding fish, aka pescado, to the pot.

Once the soup starts to boil again, return heat to medium-low and allow to simmer from 5 to 7 minutes or until fish is cooked through and all flavors are combined.

Caldo de pescado in a pot, fully cooked.

Adjust salt to taste, turn off the heat and serve.

How To Serve

Here are some options to serve this caldo de pescado, just as we do in Mexico!

Mexican fish soup caldo de pescado served on plates with lime wedges on the side and glasses with ice and water.

Store & Reheat Instructions

Got some leftovers? Place them into an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or pop them into suitable containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

For reheating, place caldo de pescado in a stockpot and reheat on the stove over medium heat mixing one or two times, not more or the fish will fall apart.

Caldo de pescado recipe cover.

Caldo de Pescado (Mexican Fish Soup)

author Maricruz
This delicious Mexican fish soup is known as "caldo de pescado" and is hearty, comforting, and so flavorful.
prep 15 minutes
cook 25 minutes
total 40 minutes
serving 4

Ingredients 

  • 2 lb white fish chunks (read notes)
  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 2 guajillo chilies (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 small onion (halved)
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 small potatoes (cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • 1 large carrot (thick sliced)
  • 1 leek (cut into rings)
  • 2 medium zucchini (cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp shrimp bouillon
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Boil tomatoes in plenty of water until soft (about 10 minutes).
  • Turn off the heat, add guajillo chiles and push them down to immerse them well into the hot water. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and guajillo chilies into a blender or food processor.
  • Add chipotle chilies, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and 1 cup of water.
  • Blend for 1 minute or until you’ll have a smooth sauce.
  • Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  • Add carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and leek. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce and season with salt.
  • Add shrimp bouillon and oregano. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Pour into the pot 6 cups of water, mix, and bring to a boil.
  • Important: if you are adding fish heads and tails to the soup, this is the time to add them as they can start releasing their flavor right away, otherwise, keep cooking the vegetables for 10 more minutes before the next step.
  • Add the fish chunks to the pot, bring to boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer from 5 to 7 minutes or until fish and vegetables are cooked through.
  • Adjust salt to taste, turn off the heat and serve.

Notes

Mexican fish soup calls for firm white fish, such as cod or halibut. Snapper, tilapia, and catfish are also good options.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 926mg | Potassium: 1755mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 5220IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 4mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I made caldo de pescado yesterday with your recipe and we enjoyed it with tortillas calientitas and salsa macha, so delicious! can’t wait to try more of your recipes because everything looks so yummy!