Easy cod fish stew with vegetables in the tradition of Northern Germany. Big flavors, short cooking time, optional creamy or clear, tomato infused broth.
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Fish Stew with Cod – a German Classic
This particular version of cod fish stew (known as Fischeintopf) is from the north of Germany where the proximity to the North and Baltic seas is reflected in the local cuisine and various fish dishes are made and consumed with enthusiasm. Besides cod variants of this wonderful soup are prepared with haddock and whiting.
The recipe makes it easy to vary the vegetables and also to alter the overall profile of the dish – you can opt for a clear tomato infused broth or create a luxurious, creamy broth that sings with the fresh zing of lemon juice and herbs added just before serving.
We prefer the version using cream which you can follow being made below. It tastes incredibly light and provides an excellent backdrop to the tender veggies and flakey cod. A favorite in our family, especially on a cold day.
- Cod fillet. The cod must be skinless. You can substitute with fillet from a different firm white fish (bass, grouper, haddock or whiting).
- Lemon. You will use the juice of half a lemon to flavor the fish fillet before cooking it and the rest to add to the broth just before you serve the stew.
- Butter. For a delicious base to saute the vegetables.
- Olive oil. To keep the butter from burning and for its robust flavor.
- Onion. To lend its unique sweet and savory dimension to the broth.
- Vegetables. You have many options here, but definitely celery and carrot. We like to add zucchini and green beans too. Other ideas are fennel and leeks – both enjoyed in German cuisine.
- Potatoes. Use an all-purpose or waxy variety. Yukon gold are very suitable.
- White wine. Try not to skip it, it adds a subtle tang, mineral notes and controlled acidity. Do not use a buttery/oaky flavored variety or a sweet one, rather something with lemon/lime notes.
- Vegetable stock or fish stock. The choice is up to you. We like the savory base of vegetable stock but if you are looking for a stronger saline/seafood flavor in your broth use fish stock or simply add a couple of tablespoons of clam juice to vegetable stock.
- Heavy (whipping) cream. Do not substitute with regular cream or half and half. You need the fat content and luxurious mouthfeel of heavy cream.
- Salt and pepper. To season the cod and the broth.
- Parsley and dill. We like to add both herbs, but using only one is fine.
- Prep the fish. Cut the cod into chunks, liberally season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it. Set aside to marinate.
- Prep the vegetables. Dice the onion and potatoes (smaller chunks will cook faster), chop the carrot, celery, zucchini and halve the green beans.
- Saute. Heat the butter and oil and saute the onions until soft, then add the rest of the vegetables and the potatoes. Saute for a few more minutes and deglaze with the wine.
- Simmer. After the wine has reduced, add the stock, stir and bring to boil. Season with salt to taste. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
- Finish. Add the heavy cream and the cod, stir and cook for about 8 more minutes or until the cod is cooked through. Add the fresh dill and parsley, some lemon juice and serve.
Cod Fish Stew Variations
- Cod stew with tomatoes – You can easily change the creamy broth variant of Fischeintopf shown here to a bright and delicious tomato infused one. Grate two large, ripe tomatoes (seeds removed, discard the skins) at the time of adding the stock (step #6 above). Using only the grated flesh will ensure that the broth is clear and free of elements that can distract the palate.
- Spicy fish stew – add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper at the time you add the cod (or your favorite hot sauce). You can even add them as early as prep step #1 where you cut and season the raw fish.
- Fish stew with bacon – some versions of German cod stew are prepared with bacon – simply saute bacon bits until most of the fat is rendered, then add the onions and continue with the recipe. Bacon adds saltiness so be careful as you season the broth.
Serve German Fish Stew
- Always serve this stew with plenty of lemon slices on the side. The broth can easily take on extra acidity. The same applies to fresh dill and parsley.
- Although it appears quite hearty, a bowl of Fischeintopf is not overly filling and should be offered with fresh bread if the intention is to enjoy it as an entree. In Germany rye sourdough is typically served along with it, but dinner rolls are also a popular option (such as Kaiser).
- Often a glass of dark German lager (aka liquid bread) accompanies the stew – such as bock, dunkel, schwarzbier or an ale like altbier.
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- 1 lbs cod fillet, skinless*
- 1 lemon, cut in half, juice of
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 zucchini (or a few baby zucchini)
- 1 cup green beans (or about a handful)
- 2 medium potatoes (waxy or all-purpose)
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 3 1/3 cups vegetable or fish stock**
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp fresh dill and/or fresh parsley, chopped fine for garnish
- Cut the cod fillet into bite-sized chunks. Place in a bowl, season generously with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the fish. Set aside.
- Dice the onion, then dice the potatoes (so they will cook faster). Chop the carrot, celery and zucchini and green beans.
- Over medium-high heat in a soup pot saute the onion in the butter and olive oil. When the onion is soft, add the rest of the veggies. Stir, cook for a couple of minutes and deglaze with the wine.
- After the wine has reduced by half, add the stock, stir, season with salt to taste, then bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cover, allowing just a sliver of an opening for some steam to escape, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
- Stir in the heavy cream, add the cod, stir well, cover again and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the cod is cooked through and is tender and flakey. Squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over the stew, add parsley and/or dill, stir and serve.
*You can use other firm white fish like haddock, grouper or whiting.
**Using fish stock creates a more powerful flavor base. Alternatively, you can also add a couple of tablespoons of clam juice to vegetable stock to impart a briny flavor to the stew.
TOMATO BROTH VERSION
Grate two large, ripe tomatoes (seeds removed, discard the skins) and add them at the same time you add the stock. Using only the grated tomato flesh will ensure that the broth is clear and free of elements that can distract the palate. Omit the heavy cream at the end.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 447Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 327mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 7gSugar: 11gProtein: 28g
Nutritional information is for the average of 4-6 servings.