Fish Soup

The Shiksa’s Passover Potluck is a unique annual online event. I’ve invited my friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to share recipes that are kosher for Passover. My goals are simple– to foster mutual understanding between different cultures, to introduce you to my foodie friends, and to share yummy recipes and cooking ideas for Passover! To learn more about the Passover holiday, click here. To learn about what makes a recipe kosher for Passover, click here. To check out the other Passover Potluck recipes, click here.

Levana Kirschenbaum helped to introduce the concept of fine kosher dining in the late 1970’s when she opened her New York restaurant, Levana. Since then, she has made a name for herself by publishing multiple cookbooks and teaching cooking classes on New York’s Upper West Side. Her approach to cooking is natural, healthy, and flavorful. In today’s Passover Potluck guest post, she shares her exotic recipe for Fish Soup. What a treat!  ~ Tori

Levana says:

When asked what my culinary background is, I answer “Machane Ima!” (Camp Mommy). My mother is the original diva of delicious, healthy meals. Growing up in Morocco in a crowded house with modest circumstances, I was fascinated with the sheer volume, quality and caliber of her cooking and indeed all her crafts. In fact, I paid my way through my lean college years by bartering cooking and sewing, for my roommates and friends. Not long after I graduated college with various degrees, I decided there was no use denying I was a chip off the old block: a cook is what I should be. Soon after I got married, I found myself co-owning Levana Restaurant, catering, and teaching others how to cook.

My latest (fourth) cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple, is what I only half-jokingly call my Magnum Opus, combining my greatest passions: developing sensible, wholesome and delicious recipes; teaching cooking the exciting, simple, delicious and nutritious way; and sharing my thoughts through writing.  The book includes more than 400 tried-and-true recipes, including Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Passover options, with 73 full-size color pictures by my talented son-in-law photographer, Meir Pliskin.

I have a few secrets for good cooking, and I share them liberally: knock their socks off by showing them what a glorious meal you can make using the most plebeian and freshest ingredients; ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby (thanks Marvin Gaye, I couldn’t have said it better!); from scratch beats the race; serious ingredients, fun dishes; you never need to lose your figure on a delicious dinner. Understanding food can be easy, fun, delicious, and liberating, and the health rewards are endless and permanent.

You must have read somewhere there’s no good fish soup without that verboten shellfish, but wait till you taste this one! It simply has too much going for it to be missing anything.
I eliminate the broth-making step by wrapping the heads and tails of fish loosely in cheesecloth (you can also use expandable muslin bags- fill them up like a sock, and tie the open end). Cook them right along with the soup, then discard them without any mess, no need for a second pot. This is every bit as interesting as the traditional French version containing shellfish. Besides, the Moroccan version never had any.

Recommended Products:

Food Processor

Large Pot

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Fish Soup


  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large leeks, sliced
  • 4 ribs celery, cut in thirds
  • 4 large close garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 head and 1 tail of a large salmon or any other large kosher fish, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (or sub 1 medium celery root)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Large pinch ground cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 large pinches saffron
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
  • 2 tbsp anisette or arack (make sure liquor is KFP)
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless kosher fish such as salmon, tile, or snapper cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • A few small fresh fennel leaves to garnish (optional)

You will also need

  • A food processor, a large pot, cheesecloth or muslin
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 12
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Coarsely grind the leeks, celery, garlic, parsley, cilantro and pepper in a food processor. Heat the oil in a wide heavy pot over medium high. Add the ground mixture to the pot and saute until all liquids evaporate. Add to the pot the fish parts wrapped in cheesecloth, canned tomatoes, potatoes, wine, cayenne, cloves, bay leaves, paprika, saffron, salt, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered for 45 minutes. Add the liquor, fish and pepper, and cook another few minutes, just until the fish is cooked through. Press on the cheesecloth to release as much liquid as you can before discarding. Adjust the texture and seasonings to taste. Add fresh fennel leaves to garnish, if desired. Makes a dozen ample servings.

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