There are as many recipes for traditional Russian fish soup, known as or uha, as there are cooks in Russia. It can be made elegantly with a clear fish stock and served with a side of mini fish dumplings known as pelmeni or mini fish pies (kulebiak). Or it can be very rustic and flavorful as I have done here. This is my adaptation using walleyed pike, but any white-fleshed or even salmon can be used. Traditionally, it is made with fish heads and bones as well as different types of fillets. This soup is hearty enough to be eaten as a main course.
- 2 pounds cod (or pike, perch, or salmon fillet, cut into 2-inch pieces)
- 1/2 pound fish heads (and/or bones)
- 8 cups water
- 2 medium onions (sliced)
- 1 piece celery (chopped)
- 2 large carrots (peeled and sliced)
- Black peppercorns to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
- Garnish: fresh dill or chopped chives or green onions
In a medium-large saucepan, place fish bones and water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add onions, celery, carrots, peppercorns, parsley, and salt and again bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bones and strain, if desired, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the juices. We leave the vegetables in.
Add fish pieces and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until fish is cooked. Serve in heated bowls with fresh dill or chopped chives or green onions, if desired. Traditionally, the fish soup would be served with mini fish dumplings or mini fish pies.