Veracruz Style Fish Soup (Bacalao a la Veracruzana)
If I could pick my new favorite seafood stew this Veracruz-Style Fish Soup from the cookbook Tu Casa Mi Casa would absolutely be the winner. It is packed with so many colors and flavors! If you have been searching for a peppy way to celebrate Friday fish dinners, this recipe should be at the top of your list.
This one-pot dish couldn’t be simpler to make. Packed to the gills (pun intended) with flaky white fish and vegetables, this fish soup is light enough for spring’s arrival while still hearty and cozy enough for the chilly weather.
Why I Love this Recipe
This Bacalao a la Veracruzana (a.k.a. “bacalao a la vizcaina” or “Veracruz-style cod”) is a beloved dish by acclaimed chef Enrique Olvera. His mother made this dish growing up and he has now made it his own. After eating this yummy fish stew, I could honestly feel the amor in every bite. It is very comforting.
I also love how bright and beautiful this seafood stew is. Bursting with color, texture and flavor from the fingerling potatoes, bell peppers, and pickled banana peppers to the tangy Mediterranean olives, capers, and tomatoes, this is a bowl full of bold flavors.
This fish soup is so easy to make! Just prep the ingredients, add them to a large stock pot and cook — the magic comes together in under 30 minutes. This dish may be simple to make, but it tastes beyond fancy and is light, yet full of flavor, and festive enough to serve to dinner guests.
Oh, and if you’re not into fish? The sauce itself is so tasty and can be used to zhuzh up any protein, from chicken to pork, tofu to shrimp. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and make this delightful recipe for Veracruz style fish soup today!
Tu Casa Mi Casa
Enrique Olvera’s cookbook, Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook, is one I highly recommend. I love that Enrique grew up in his grandmother’s kitchen – you can sense the love he has for his abuela and his passion for celebrating Mexican cuisine.
In this cookbook, Enrique is getting in touch with his childhood memories and going back to the basics. The styling is more home-y than haute couture, and makes it feel like you are with him at his grandma’s kitchen table. You can tell that for the author, cooking is an act of love. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what it should be about!
If this Veracruz style seafood stew is any indication of how Enrique approaches life in the kitchen, I can tell that I’m going to love making many more recipes from this cookbook!
How to Make Veracruz Style Seafood Stew
While the original soup recipe calls for bacalao, pronounced [bah-kah-LAH-oh] (dried and salted cod), I purchased unsalted filets which eliminated the need to de-salt it by soaking overnight. Anything that can simplify my life, I’m a fan of!
So, since we’re dealing with plain ol’ white fish that has been untreated, the first step is to season the fish with salt.
Next, heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, sautéing them until they are just beginning to caramelize and brown. This should take about 10 minutes.
Now add in the tomatoes, continuing to cook them until they begin to break down. This takes another 10 or so minutes.
Add in the seasoned cod and the remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender and the fish is flaky.
TIP: The consistency of this dish should be somewhere between a fish soup and a stew, so add water if the liquid is evaporating too quickly.
Taste, seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh chopped parsley for garnish. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What fish works best for this seafood stew recipe?
While the recipe was originally written for salted cod, any flaky white fish should do just fine. Tilapia, haddock, snapper, pollack, halibut, or flounder would all do the trick. As I mentioned earlier, this sauce is also exceptionally yummy on it’s own, and you could easily turn this from a fish stew to a sauce to be poured over your favorite protein.
How to Serve and Store
This classic fish dish is great served in a bowl as a soup or stew or served over rice and accompanied with bread.
The dish makes great leftovers as tacos or tortas.
It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to two months. Add water as needed during the reheating process.
Can I use canned tomatoes?
Sure! Just drain and chop canned whole roma tomatoes prior to use. I’d guess about two normal sized cans or one large can should have about 10.
I am allergic to nuts. Any suggestions?
While the almonds add a nice consistency and the slightest bit of creaminess, they aren’t necessary for the dish to be yummy. I’d recommend simply omitting them.
Need more Friday fish dinner inspiration?
Check out some of my other favorite recipes:
- Easy Fish Tacos
- Lemon Butter Fish + Video
- Caldo de Pescado y Camaron (Fish and Shrimp Soup)
- Beer-Battered Fish Tacos
If you made this recipe for Veracruz Style Fish Soup, please let me know how you liked it! You can either comment and rate the recipe below, or you can always tag me in your Instagram pics so I can see your lovely creations!
Veracruz-Style Cod (Bacalao a la Veracruzana)
- 2 pounds cod or tilapia fillets
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup sliced white onion
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 10 very ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 pound baby potatoes or fingerlings, cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 pickled banana peppers
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 4 tablespoons pitted green olives
- 4 tablespoons capers
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 1/2 cup blanched flaked (sliced) almonds
- Season fillets with salt.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and fry until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down about 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and add the cod and the rest of the ingredients.
- Cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Add water if the liquid is evaporating too quickly, it should be soupy. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Top with chopped parsley.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container or zip-seal bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 2 months. Just add a bit of water to reheat.
- While the recipe was originally written for cod, any flaky white fish should do just fine. Tilapia, haddock, snapper, pollack, halibut, or flounder would all do the trick.
Originally published: May 2019
Photography by Jenna Sparks