This Russian fish soup recipe for ukha is based on a centuries-old traditional Russian soup said to be a favourite of emperors and peasants alike. My family recipe makes an easy fish soup, made with salmon that’s fragrant with fresh dill, although historically this fisherman’s soup was made with several types of fish and a fish head stock. Serve with sour cream and dark rye bread.
Russians love their soups and perhaps it’s due to my Russian genes that I was drawn to another soup-loving culinary culture, that of Cambodia, and the region of Southeast Asia more largely. I grew up slurping soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in summer and winter, spring and autumn, and along with borscht and shchi, this fragrant fish broth was one of my favourites. Before I tell you more about my Russian fish soup recipe for ukha, I have a favour to ask.
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Russian Fish Soup Recipe for Ukha – A Traditional Fish Soup Made with Salmon
With its roots in an ancient Sanskrit word for broth, ‘ukha’ wasn’t always a fish soup. It was thought to be a clear soup made with chicken and vegetables, and a seasoning of salt, pepper, and spices such as paprika, saffron, cloves and cinnamon, until the 17th century when it became known as a fishermen’s soup.
Like other Slavic fish soups, such as riblja corba from Montenegro, ukha was a broth that fishermen made at the end of their day with whatever they had left of the catch, and historically was made with several types of fish – usually perch, pike, trout, and/or salmon – and was traditionally made with a fish head stock or even a stock made from a whole fish, with filleted fish pieces added later.
The soup that I grew up with was much simpler, typically made with one type of fish, usually salmon, no fish stock, some seasoning, vegetables and fresh dill. It was always served with dark rye bread and sour cream. Just a few tips to making this Russian fish soup recipe for ukha.
Tips for Making this Russian Fish Soup Recipe for Ukha
I only have a few tips to making this traditional fish soup. While this ukha recipe tastes absolutely delicious just as it is, by all means make a fish stock, use a liquid store-bought fish stock, or even fish bouillon or fish stock cubes.
I’ve only used salmon, but as I mentioned above, ukha was traditionally made with several types of fish, including perch, pike, trout, and/or salmon, so feel free to use an alternative fish or even several types.
I’m sharing a classic ukha recipe made with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika, and haven’t used saffron or cinnamon or cloves, which were historically used, but do try these spices. And do taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
I’m a lover of fresh fragrant dill, but fresh parsley is also often used, so if you’re not a fellow dill lover, opt for parsley instead.
Russian Fish Soup Recipe for Ukha
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion - large, chopped into 1 cm-wide slices
- 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 2 litres water
- 400 g salmon - sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 2 tsp ground pepper or to taste
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 large carrot - peeled, sliced into rounds, chopped into quarters
- 2 large potatoes - peeled, diced into pieces same size as carrot
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- In a soup pot, fry onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until onion is transparent.
- Add two litres of water, 100g salmon, potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, pepper, sugar, paprika, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and add remainder of the salmon and half the fresh dill, taste, and continue to simmer until potatoes are cooked.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, then ladle into bowls and garnish with the rest of the fresh dill, add a dollop of sour cream, and serve with dark rye bread.
Please do let us know if you make our Russian fish soup recipe for ukha as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.