Sunday, January 13, 2013

Salmon Head Soup

Try telling your family "Salmon Head Soup" when they ask what's for dinner... The reactions you get will be only slightly less awesome than how it tastes.

I bought a salmon head at the farmer's market this weekend because it cost $1 and I am a sucker for almost free wild-caught protein. I asked the man what I was supposed to do with the gigantic thing, and he said people usually make soup out of it. I did a little research, and it seems many people consider the head to be the most flavorful part of the salmon, even though there isn't much meat there. The perfect way to extract this flavor is to simmer it in soup. Using what I had on hand I came up with this recipe - it really was surprisingly flavorful! Once we convinced our kids to take their first bites, Salmon Head Soup quickly went from something to be dreaded to "This is four times yummy."


2-3 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2" peeled ginger, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
1 large bay leaf
1 piece of Kombu Seaweed (I buy dried Kombu at Whole Foods)
1 large salmon head
1 lemon, quartered
2 T coconut oil
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 c diced fresh parsley
2 T lemon juice
2-3 cups chopped greens such a bok choy
1 t liquid aminos
salt and pepper

1.) Heat olive oil in large soup pot. Cook onion, celery, and carrots until the onion becomes translucent. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir and cook till garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kombu, bay leaf, lemon (squeeze each quarter into pot before dropping it in) and salmon head (yes, eyes and all!!!) Add 1/2 t salt and a few dashes of freshly ground pepper. Add enough water to submerge everything and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes, until the fish is cooked.

2.) Using a mesh strainer, carefully remove the fish head from the pot. It will be very tender and you don't want weird pieces of bone or fins to fall into the pot. Pick all of the meat off of the head (if you are squeamish have someone else do this part. Or maybe don't make this soup.) and set aside. This is easier than it sounds - it is very obvious which parts are edible and which parts aren't.

3.) Remove the lemon, kombu, and bay leaf from pot and discard. Using the same mesh strainer, strain all the vegetables out of the cooking liquid, RESERVING ALL OF THE LIQUID. You just want the veggies to be separate from the liquid. At this point you will have a plate of salmon meat, a bowl of cooked vegetables, and a bowl of stock.

4.) Using 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, cook up 1 cup of dry quinoa. This will be served with your soup and tastes really good cooked in the salmon stock!

5.) Once your quinoa is going, melt the coconut oil over medium heat in your now-empty soup pot. Add the brown rice flour and make a roux, stirring until it is nice and browned. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and stir to combine - it should become thick and bubbly pretty quickly. Continue adding liquid until the broth is the consistency you want - I went for a broth slightly less thick than stew broth because I wanted the soup to be more chowdery than chicken-soupy. (I think I used about 2 1/2 cups of liquid but didn't keep track.)

6.) Return the reserved salmon meat and vegetables to the soup pot with your broth. Stir in liquid aminos and chopped greens. Cover and allow to cook about 7 minutes until the greens are wilted. (If you think there isn't enough meat in your soup, you could add a can of salmon at this point - I buy canned salmon at Costco and it tastes really wonderful.)

7.) Just before serving, stir in fresh parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve over the cooked quinoa quinoa, garnished with more chopped parsley.


  1. Nice! :) And THANK YOU for my bday present, did you make that????? It is wonderful! And Titus is adorable!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    1. Yes I made it Jen, and it was SO FUN! I'm so glad you like it. :)