Margarita's International Recipes



Fish and Coconut Soup

Sometimes the best things are the simplest things, as this Garifuna recipe for fish soup shows. It has only a handful of ingredients, you can make it in about an hour and a half, most of it left on its own, and it's delicious. The more I ate, the more I wanted.

To make it, I combined two separate recipes, one reported by travellers and another by Saveur. The differences weren't great - one had details about how to spice it, the other mentioned using fish or chicken stock in addition to coconut milk. Givne how well it turned out, I'd make it the same way - though I might try adding some basil, which I skipped this time. I'd also add an extra potato.

I used cod for the fish - it was on sale - but Garifunas would use king fish, red snapper, yellow tail or even sword fish. I don't think it matters much what you use. I first sauteed the fish in butter before adding it to the pot, but I don't think I'll bother doing that next time.

This dish is supposed to be served with plantain mashed. You boil a couple of green plantains and a couple of yellow plantains in some salted water, and then mash them. Alas, I used a food processor to do it and it left a paste with a very unappealing gummy texture. If you try it, I'd recommend hand mashing, or perhaps using a blender.

Fish and Coconut Soup


  • 1.5 lbs white fish fillets
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, divided
  • 3 cups fish or chicken broth
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 - 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground annatto
  • salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. butter (optional)


Place the fish fillets in a large food bag or bowl. Add lime juice, minced garlic and 3/4 tsp. cumin. Mix well and let refrigerate for one hour.

In a large pot, bring the stock and coconut milk to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, onion, cilantro, basil leaves if using, annatto and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of cumin. Mix well, remove heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt as necessary.

Meanwhile, and optionally, heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Remove fish fillets from the marinade. Pour the marinade into the soup pot, and place the fillets in the skillet. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes. Then add to the soup pot and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively, put both the marinade and the raw fish directly into the soup pot and cook for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Adjust seasoning again before serving.

Adapted from a recipe at Saveur and Sandra Scott's recipe at In the Know Traveler.

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