One-Pot Wonders

Ivy Manning's Ligurian Fish Soup

May  7, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Lauren Volvo
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

From Instant Pot Italian: "There’s a different version of this delicious fish and fennel soup, called buridda, in every harbor of northwestern Italy. Local red mullet or bass is traditional, but I opt for extra-firm fish like sustainable swordfish, halibut, or thick cod fillets, as they hold their shape better in the Instant Pot." —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

LIGURIAN FISH SOUP is excerpted from INSTANT POT ITALIAN © 2018 by Ivy Manning. Photography © 2018 by Lauren Volvo. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 3 cups homemade seafood broth or store-bought seafood broth, or 2 cups bottled clam juice plus 1 cup water
  • 2 medium (8-ounce) waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3/4 cup boxed or canned diced tomatoes in puree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound firm white fish steaks, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 12 ounces clams and/or mussels, rinsed, debearded if using mussels
  • Crusty bread, sliced and toasted, for serving
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
  1. Put the oil in the pot, select SAUTÉ, and adjust to NORMAL/MEDIUM heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, fennel, bell pepper, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the vermouth and simmer to burn off some of the alcohol, 1 minute. Press CANCEL.
  2. Add the broth, potatoes, tomatoes, bay leaf, ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Place the fish on top of the top of the vegetables, but do not submerge it. Lock on the lid, select the PRESSURE COOK function, and adjust to HIGH pressure for 5 minutes. Make sure the steam valve is in the “Sealing” position and that the “Keep Warm” button is off.
  3. When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fish to a cutting board. If using swordfish, remove the skin, if present, and discard. Cut the fish into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  4. Add the clams and/or mussels to the pot and stir very gently to submerge them in the cooking liquid. Select SAUTÉ, adjust to LESS/LOW heat, and cook, uncovered, until the shells open, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened shellfish. Season the soup with salt and black pepper and discard the bay leaf. Return the fish to the pot and stir gently to combine. Press CANCEL.
  5. Serve the stew with the bread and lemon wedges on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Atiya Hakeem
    Atiya Hakeem
  • Bernadette M
    Bernadette M

2 Reviews

Atiya H. May 7, 2021
I've made this twice now, once with fresh oregano and once with dried, and my Italian-American husband and I both enjoyed it very much. I used two cups of canned fish stock and one cup of clam juice and added both a pound of manila clams and a pound of mussels (previously frozen on the half shell, because that's what they had) because more shellfish is always good. My fish was a pound of monchong, which isn't as firm or strongly flavored as swordfish, but which took up the flavors of the broth well and maintained a nice soft texture. I seasoned with dried oregano, basil, and "Italian seasoning" right before the pressure cooking, and the resulting broth was definitely worth sopping up with bread.
Bernadette M. November 10, 2019
Would not make this again.

I made this last night with 1.3 lb halibut steak. There were no manila clams at Whole Foods, and I've never liked their littleneck clams, so I bought 4 large (peel-on) white shrimp + 1/2 bay scallops to scatter into the broth at the end.

But the recipe was not good. I would not make this again. Halibut cooked very nicely, although if it had been 1 lb as directed in recipe, it might have been over done. But broth didn't have great flavor - perhaps too much oregano? And/or add some other herbs? (I used dried oregano so perhaps that was the problem.)