Pike Soup

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Now that the balmy summer turns slowly to autumn—this morning at the cottage it was foggy and barely 10°C—it’s time to dig out all the recipes for delicious soups. And what else would warm you up better than pike bones, and crab or crayfish shells! If you don’t fancy cooking the broth, forget cooking a fish soup!

Pike Soup

500 g of pike fillet
1 l strong fish broth
½ l crab or crayfish broth
1 small leek
half a bunch of spring onions
half a bunch of fresh dill
1 big onion
3 large waxy potatoes
a couple of tablespoons of butter
Combine both broths and heat in a large pan. Add the pike fillets in chunks as large as possible. Cook at low heat for 5 minutes. Lift the fish onto a plate to cool down. Remove the bones from the meat. There is a long row of Y-shaped bones in the thick loins, and about half a dozen short straight bones below the lateral line, close to the tail. Spread the peaces of meat on a plate, and season with salt, and lightly with white pepper.
Add the chopped onion and leek to the broth, and cook until tender. Add potatoes in small cubes. Add salt. At this point, the broth may taste too salty, because the potatoes will absorb salt later. When the potatoes are almost tender, add the fish, and cook for a while. Cool down the soup, and keep it overnight in the cold.
Overnight storage in strong and salty broth balances tastes, and the potatoes have time to suck up the salt and the flavour of the fish broth. This is actually the most important stage in cooking many soups.
Take the pan to room temperature in time. Warm up slowly, and add butter. Taste the salt. If the soup is too salty, add some saltless fish broth. Equally, you may need to add salt even more.
Just before serving, add some chopped spring onion, and some dill after that.

Fish Broth

Use a 10-litre pan
Pike, perch-pike, and perch heads, bones, and skins to fill 2/3 of the pan.
Skins and heads are the most important ones, but do not use only those.
a few carrots
a parsnip
a piece of celeriac
a few onions
a few twigs of dill
30 whole black peppers
30 whole white peppers
5 bay leaves
water to cover all ingredients
Remove the gills and intestines, and rinse the bones. Cut the spine so that you can place the bones tightly together in the pan. Remove the foam from the surface when the broth comes to the boil for the first time. At this point, the broth may smell bad, but that is normal.
Add the spices and herbs, and vegetables in chunks. Add water to cover all vegetables. Lower the heat so that the broth boils slightly.
Stir occasionally so that the bones and heads break, and all the taste will be added into the broth. Cook at low heat for over half an hour. Let cool for a moment.
Sieve the broth. The frozen broth will keep well for several months.

Crab or Crayfish Broth

shells of crabs, crayfish, or shrimps
fresh fennel
a couple of shallots
rapeseed (canola) oil
Remove the intestines from the shells. Crush the shells. Roast the shells in small amount of oil for a few minutes. Add finely chopped fennel and shallots, and add water to cover the shells. Cook at low heat for half an hour. Sieve the broth.

Text and recipe: Hannu Puttonen
Photo: Veli-Pekka Räty, Three Images