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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Add tomatoes and guajillo chilies into a blender or food processor. Add chipotle chilies, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and 1 cup of water.
Blend at high speed for 1 minute or until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and 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.
Next, add 6 cups of water and cilantro. Mix, and bring to a boil.
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.
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.
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!
- Tortillas. Either the classic corn tortillas or blue corn tortillas for a change, or some soft flour tortillas as well.
- Lime juice. Adding a little bit of acidity will bring out the flavors of this soup even more!
- Chiles. From chiles toreados, to roasted chile de árbol (my mother’s favorite way of eating this soup), to chopped serrano or jalapeño chilies. Is all about personal preferences.
- Salsa. Not Mexican dish is complete without a salsa of course, my favorite is this Mexican chili oil, but also chile de arbol salsa and molcajete salsa are two big favorites.
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 (Mexican Fish Soup)
- 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)
- 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.
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.