Cod Poached in Garlicky Broccoli Soup with Fresh Herb Salsa

So you just can’t decide between soup and fish for dinner. Here’s your answer. Nah, that’s not what this is about. It’s more like I’m crazy about fish cooked in or right there with vegetables. The simple, clean taste in fish or seafood is perfect all on its own; ok, ok, ok. Grilled or sautéed white fish, for example, doesn’t need much more than a bit of butter or lemon. It’s true and I agree. I’m nothing if not crazy about something like Sole Meuniere, Grilled Salmon, or even Fish and Chips when I’m feeling skinny. But there’s more…and more– and I really like figuring that out with a bit more sophisticated dishes like:

Basil Sole on Greens with Parmesan Tomato Salad where the fish is cooked right on top of the greens…

or maybe a make everyone happy salmon plate:

Salmon with Scallion Pesto on Broccoli-Parm Mash

Tired of salad? Make a first course star like…

Spicy Tomato-Shrimp Stew.

There’s even a good for a group down home stew like…

Crab Chili.

When students or friends tell me they like fish, but rarely cook it, I get that. A big part of our country isn’t on the coast or even near a fine fish source like Lake Superior or Pickwick Lake. Fish isn’t part of everyone’s culture (foods stay in the cultural link for generations) and home refrigeration is still fairly new if you consider the course of history. So if your family didn’t “do” fish, you might not either. There are thoughts like this:

  • Fish doesn’t keep well. I have little freezer space.
  • Who knows if it’s good?
  • It sometimes smells or it smells up the house.
  • It cooks too quickly and is then overdone.
  • Our mother didn’t cook it.
  • Fish and chips –that’s all I like.
  • My next door neighbor’s dad always made fish sticks on Friday night. For 20 years.
  • I don’t know how to unthaw it if it’s frozen.
  • How do you cook it or know when it’s done?
  • My wife only likes meat.

So read a bit (see links below) and up the quality of your dinner menus. Become healthier, even thinner. Get your brave on. No fish fear here! Start with something simple like sautéing a fillet in a skillet. Have a warm plate at the ready, the table set, lemons cut, and your vegetables done ahead of time. If I had to give one big piece of red letter advice about fish, it’s this:

Fish needs your undivided attention unless it’s in the oven and maybe even then.

Basic fish cooking here.

Fish: Buying, storing, and cooking basics

No time for buying fresh fish? If you keep some cryovaced fish (frozen in individual portions of well-sealed heavy plastic) in your freezer, you’re really close to being ready to eat. They unthaw in cold water in about 15 minutes (change it every 5-10 minutes), during which time you can make coleslaw, steam asparagus, or just slice tomatoes. Many fillets cook in 5 minutes or less.  And you thought you knew the definition of fast food.  If you toss the frozen fish in the fridge overnight, the whole deal is even quicker.  You’ll have time, like I did, to check out the wildlife in your front yard…

Look closely, just right of center in rocks (top pic) or closeup in the second:

This bobcat was about 40 pounds, I’d say. Watch out if you have small animals!

Or, if you really love soup, are crazy about vegetables, and want a one-dish simple, low-carb stunner–make my dish. Soup leftovers can be used to poach eggs, start a meal as a cold soup, or as a sauce for a really healthy benedict-like meal. Scroll down for those photos.


So try this?  It’s not difficult, but do read through the recipe first so you really understand the flow of the cooking.  Don’t skip the salsa even if you substitute fresh parsley for all three herbs. The soup can be made ahead and refrigerated if need be.  Might you make this with shrimp? Surely–fresh or frozen, but definitely peeled /tailed ahead of time. Here you go:


serves 4

Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth in the soup if need be. When you’re done making the soup, this meal then comes together very quickly and you’ll need to stay right at the stove. So set the table (include soup spoons) and pour the wine before you poach the cod or you’ll be eating cold fish.  Well, that’s better than being one!


Can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until needed for the fish.

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 small well-washed leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Small handful fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme (can sub 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Pinch Piment d’Espelette or Aleppo pepper (can sub with smaller amount of crushed red pepper)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups broccoli florets (about 1.5 heads–save stalks to slice and sauté for salad)

In a six-quart lidded soup pot, heat the butter and oil over medium flame; add leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until soft, adding garlic for last minute or two.  Stir in the parsley and thyme, then season with salt and peppers.

Pour in white wine; let cook down a few minutes until reduced by half.  Add water and broth. Bring to a boil and stir in the broccoli. Reduce to a healthy simmer, cover partially, and cook until broccoli is totally fork tender–about 30 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove thyme sprigs or you’ll be flossing your teeth at the table with them. Purée using a handheld immersion blender or carefully in batches in the blender (hold a towel tightly over the top) or in the food processor. Return to pot, if needed, and taste for seasoning one last time. Any leftovers are good hot or cold. You can poach an egg or two in this soup for a filling breakfast.


  • 4 cod fillets, 5 or 6 ounces each
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place 4 shallow bowls in it to warm.

Pour about  1 1/2 -2 quarts of soup into a large, deep skillet or sauté pan and bring to a boil; reduce to a bare simmer. Pat cod fillets dry with paper towel, season with salt and pepper, pressing the spices into the fish. Lay fillets down to the soup gently. Cook until just firm, opaque, and flaking a bit–5 or minutes or a little more if the fillets are larger. Don’t overcook. Meanwhile, make the salsa (below).


  • 20 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, finely minced–white and green parts
  • 1/3 cup: finely chopped fresh mint, basil, and chives (can sub parsley, dill, etc.,)

Stir together the salsa ingredients gently in a small bowl.

Carefully add a piece of cod to each warm bowl. Ladle or spoon a little more than a cup of soup gently over the fish.  Grind a bit of pepper over all and garnish fish with a spoonful of 3-Herb Salsa.  Serve hot.

{printable recipe}

WINE:  Sauvignon Blanc or Fumé Blanc. France or California wines are my picks. The tasty and inexpensive New Zealand options are a bit too citrusy here for my palate, as I’m thinking herbaceous and grassy–but serve one if that’s your preference.

DESSERT: Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream


a cool cook might use the rest of the soup like this…or even…or maybe:

…and you wondered what to do with your aunt’s (thrift shop’s?) crystal sherbet stems and Haviland china bread plates… (Stir in a tiny dollop of sour cream here and garnish with mint or basil.)

Sing a new song; cook some fish and soup,


5 thoughts on “Cod Poached in Garlicky Broccoli Soup with Fresh Herb Salsa

  1. Pingback: 25 Scrumptious Dishes to Jump Start Your Healthy January | More Time at the Table

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